There’s only one word that can sum up Seton Hall’s 76-66 loss to Iowa State on Sunday night.
The Pirates struggled to get going offensively throughout the night, shooting a mere 36% from the field and 26% from three against an Iowa State defense that gave up 84 points to Seton Hall last weekend in the Bahamas. Myles Powell finished with 19 points on 7-20 shooting before fouling out late in the second half, while Seton Hall’s starting five combined to score only 21 points with Myles Cale and Quincy McKnight accounting for 18 of the 21 with nine apiece.
To make matters worse, Sandro Mamukelashvili, who lit up Iowa State for 18 points on 7-10 shooting in the first matchup between the two teams, fell hard on his wrist in the opening minutes and did not return. Kevin Willard said after the game that an X-Ray revealed a broken bone in Mamukelashvili’s wrist and he is expected to be out 6-8 weeks.
Both teams got off to ice-cold starts on offense, as Seton Hall led only 5-2 at the under-16 timeout and 8-4 at the under-12 timeout. The Pirates and Cyclones combined to shoot 5-28 from the field in the first eight minutes, a far cry from the offensive display the two teams put on in the Bahamas.
By the under-four timeout, Seton Hall led only 16-15. Iowa State overtook the Pirates with two minutes left in the half, jumping out to a 22-21 lead behind two free throws from George Conditt, who turned in a signature performance with 17 points, six rebounds and five blocked shots.
Iowa State took a 28-26 lead into halftime and opened the second half on a 6-0 run to extend its lead to 34-26. The Pirates responded with a 6-0 run of their own to make it 36-34, prompting an Iowa State timeout.
Seton Hall held a 50-48 lead with six minutes left, but a 7-0 Iowa State run made it 55-50 by the 5:10 mark. Seton Hall got the lead down to 57-53 with under four minutes remaining, but a Tyrese Haliburton three-pointer from the top of the key to making it 62-53 proved to be the dagger that buried the Pirates for good.
What lies ahead in the coming weeks is a crucial stretch for Seton Hall. With high-profile non-conference games coming up against Rutgers at the RAC on Dec. 14 and Maryland at home on Dec. 19, the Pirates are in a position where they need to win both games to keep any hopes of a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament alive.
-If Mamukelashvili winds up actually being out for 6-8 weeks, Seton Hall could be in big trouble. The Pirates’ first matchup with Iowa State seemed to be a turning point for the team’s second-leading scorer. Now Seton Hall will be without an integral part of its offense.
-Mamukelashvili’s absence means it’s time for Tyrese Samuel to step up and earn himself serious minutes. He has looked good in limited playing time so far this season. Can he get the job done with extended run? That’s Seton Hall’s best bet at this point.
-Willard mentioned after the game that Taurean Thompson might get a look at the four with Mamukelashvili out. It’s hard to see that actually happening, but it sure would be interesting.
-Jared Rhoden had a rough night in all areas of the game. An extremely atypical performance from the sophomore to struggle across the board.
-It’s imperative Seton Hall closes out its non-conference schedule strong with wins over Rutgers and Maryland. It’s not going to be easy to pull off, but stretches like these set good teams apart from the great ones. This year’s Seton Hall squad wants to fall into the latter category. Beating both Big 10 opponents is a good place to start.
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at email@example.com. Find him on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.