Coming off a week in which it knocked off two ranked conference foes and secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament, Seton Hall picked up where it left off against Georgetown in the first round of the Big East Tournament and downed the Hoyas by a final score of 73-57 behind a dominant performance from Myles Powell.
Powell spearheaded a first half performance that saw Seton Hall leading 53-28 at the break with a Big East record 29 points in a single half on 10-14 shooting and 4-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Powell finished with 31.
“That’s what I see every day,” coach Kevin Willard said of Powell’s performance. “I’ll be honest, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of that. I think he’s played unselfish all year, which is maybe one of the reasons, but any time he steps on a floor, I expect to see that and so do his teammates, to be honest with you. We weren’t shocked with what happened. That’s just Myles being Myles.”
After dropping a double-overtime heartbreaker to Georgetown on March 12, Seton Hall came out on a mission to assert its dominance. The game began with an up-tempo pace and Georgetown held an early 6-4 lead, but from there, the Pirates took control and never looked back. An 8-0 run put Seton Hall up 12-8 and by the 10:46 mark, the Pirates put some distance between themselves and the Hoyas with a 24-13 lead.
With Seton Hall in possession of a double-digit lead, Powell ramped it up and led the charge that put Georgetown away for good. The junior guard was active on both ends of the floor, filling it up on offense and making plays on defense with three first-half steals. In the blink of an eye, Seton Hall held a 43-19 lead and Powell equaled Georgetown’s total with 19 points of his own.
Powell and the Pirates stayed hot coming out of the under-four timeout, as a string of eight straight points from the Trenton native put Seton Hall 53-25 before Georgetown scored five points at the end of the half to make it a 25-point game.
“I know what my teammates need,” Powell said. “My coach is always telling me pick up the energy and get your guys going, so I was just trying to do whatever I could to get my team going and for us to get the W.”
Coming out of the locker room, Seton Hall expanded its lead to 60-36, but Georgetown put together an 12-0 run over a 6:40 span to cut the Pirates’ lead to 14. During this stretch, Seton Hall went ice cold from the field, shooting one of its last 16 from the perimeter. Five straight points from Quincy McKnight brought an end to Georgetown’s run and Seton Hall’s lead returned to a comfortable 67-49 margin with 5:55 remaining.
Despite Georgetown’s best efforts, it was too little, too late for the Hoyas. The lead Seton Hall built in the first half wound up being insurmountable and the Pirates regained control down the stretch to stave off Georgetown.
“That’s a good W,” Willard said. “I was thrilled with the way we played. I thought we played really well all game. Offensively, we got a little stagnant, but that was my fault. We came out and did exactly what we wanted to do offensively and defensively. I thought we set a good tone.”
Seton Hall was dealt a scare at the end of the game, as Powell limped to the bench once the under-four timeout arrived and was taken back to the locker room to get checked out. Powell confirmed postgame that he is alright and he’ll be good to go against Marquette.
“I feel great, I’ll be ready for tomorrow,” Powell said. “We’re going to prepare for a great Marquette team, get back to the hotel and get ready.”
Lost in the hoopla of Powell’s record-setting performance were the contributions Seton Hall received from Myles Cale and Sandro Mamukelashvili. Cale finished with 14 points and was on the receiving end of a handful of assists from Powell, while Mamukelashvili finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double.
“Myles Cale and Sandro have stayed extremely steady,” Willard said. “They’ve worked extremely hard and you’re seeing two very good basketball players start to grow into themselves.”
With the win Seton Hall has secured itself a date in the semifinals with Marquette. The two teams split during the regular season, with the Pirates dropping an 80-76 decision on the road to the Golden Eagles early in Big East play and Seton Hall knocking off Marquette last week in dramatic fashion.
Friday night’s semifinal matchup will not only serve as the rubber match between the two teams, but it will provide Seton Hall with the opportunity to return to the Big East Championship game for the first time since 2015-16, when the Pirates knocked off Villanova to win their third Big East title. Now, the only thing standing between Seton Hall and a spot under the bright lights on Saturday is Marquette and Big East Player of the Year Markus Howard.
“The good thing is we just played them on Wednesday,” Willard said. “The review will be quicker, the guys will understand what we’re doing, we’ll make some adjustments offensively and we’ll make a few tweaks defensively. For the most part, we’re going to have to deal with one of the best players in the country.”
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.