Less than 24 hours after an excruciating loss to Oregon, Seton Hall was back to its old ways against Southern Miss in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Given what transpired on Wednesday, the Pirates were faced with a potential trap game against an underwhelming Southern Miss squad. Instead of turning in a no-show performance after a rough night, Seton Hall got the job done despite Myles Powell not having his best game and downed the Golden Eagles by a final score of 81-56.
Powell finished with 18 points, but ran cold throughout the first half with only seven points on 1-6 shooting from the field.
Seton Hall took the floor against Southern Miss showing no signs of a hangover after a physically grueling loss. The Pirates opened with an offensive attack that featured Romaro Gill, Jared Rhoden, Powell, Sandro Mamukelashvili and Quincy McKnight all scoring in the opening minutes.
By the under-12 timeout, Seton Hall had built a 20-9 lead and showed no signs of slowing down. However, the Pirates went ice cold coming out of the timeout and allowed Southern Miss to work its way back into the game. Seton Hall went six minutes without a field goal and Southern Miss took advantage, cutting the lead to 22-16 by the under-eight and 26-24 by the under-four.
On the verge of relinquishing its lead, Seton Hall dug in and turned things around on offense by ripping off a 10-3 run capped by a Tyrese Samuel three-pointer to take a 40-31 lead into halftime. Samuel, Powell, Mamukelashvili and McKnight all finished the first half with seven points apiece. Samuel finished with 10, while Mamukelashvili had 14 points and seven rebounds. McKnight chipped in nine before departing with cramps in the second half.
The Pirates rode the momentum from their strong finish to the first half in the opening minutes of the second to give themselves some additional breathing room. Gill got the ball rolling with a block that led to a McKnight layup in transition and a post-hook on Seton Hall’s following offensive possession to give the Pirates a 44-33 lead. From there, Seton Hall upped its defensive intensity, forcing Southern Miss into a couple of turnovers and uncomfortable offensive sets. A Jared Rhoden steal and layup punctuated the stretch and gave Seton Hall a 50-36 lead at the under-16 timeout.
Seton Hall kept its foot on the gas coming out of the timeout to put Southern Miss away. A Myles Cale and-one gave the Pirates a 60-44 lead before a pair of baskets from Powell put Seton Hall up 64-46 and prompted a Southern Miss timeout. The Pirates cruised for the remainder of the action and ended the game on a 17-3 run.
A huge opportunity awaits Seton Hall in its final Battle 4 Atlantis showdown on Friday afternoon, as Iowa State presents the Pirates with a chance at a Quadrant I victory before the two square off in a rare back-to-back non-conference matchup on Dec. 8.
-Kevin Willard has to find a way to get Tyrese Samuel more minutes. He’s simply too good to not have a large chunk of playing time. The freshman has been solid defensively and even more impressive on offense with his three-point stroke and refined skillset. When Willard and his coaching staff brought Samuel from Canada to South Orange, they were excited about his potential to be “the guy” following Myles Powell’s graduation. Considering the way he’s been playing recently, there’s a real chance he can carve out a major role on this year’s team.
-Seton Hall wasn’t sluggish coming out of the gate, but kind of lost its mojo as the first half progressed. Hard to blame them considering the circumstances. With that being said, there seemed to be a direct correlation between Myles Powell’s first-half struggles and Seton Hall’s energy levels until the end of the half when the Pirates locked back in offensively.
-Jared Rhoden played significantly more minutes than Myles Cale as Cale had an off night, continuing the trend of one key member of Seton Hall’s starting lineup struggling while a member of the supporting cast steps up.
-Anthony Nelson played scarcely, even when Quincy McKnight left the game. Safe to assume he’s in the doghouse after his performance against Oregon.
-Want to salvage what’s left of the Battle 4 Atlantis? Knock off Iowa State on Friday. Losing to Oregon was frustrating enough, but if Seton Hall leaves the Bahamas having missed out on two Quadrant I victories, the Tournament can be summed up as nothing less than a disappointment.
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at email@example.com. Find him on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.