Basketball is known as a game of runs, and Sunday evening’s clash between the Seton Hall Pirates and St. John’s Red Storm was the epitome of that, with a handful of runs from both teams. In the end, though, Seton Hall was able to outlast the short-handed Red Storm inside the Prudential Center by a final score of 75-70.
Thanks to a standout performance from Khadeen Carrington, who led all scorers with 24 points, a 23-point game from Desi Rodriguez and 16 points from Myles Powell, the Pirates survived a valiant effort from St. John’s, who played without its two best players in guards Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds.
“I thought we got in a good rhythm midway through the second half,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “I give St. John’s a lot of credit, they really battled.”
Despite the Johnnies being without two starting guards, their new lineup proved to be bigger, which presented Seton Hall with more length to guard on the defensive end.
“Without the small guards, they’re really tough to score against,” Willard said. “They use their length well.”
Things got off to a perilous start for Seton Hall, as St. John’s jumped out to an early 14-5 lead over the Pirates, prompting a Willard timeout. The Pirates responded well coming out of the timeout, going on a 9-0 run in a 1:11 span before St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin was forced to call a timeout of his own.
From that point on, the Pirates dialed in from three and went on a barrage from beyond the arc. By the first half under-8 timeout, the Hall were shooting at a 7-for-13 clip from deep. The Pirates finished out the half with a miraculous 10 made threes on 18 shots to give them to a 43-33 lead heading into halftime.
“They threw different defenses at us,” Rodriguez said of the team’s three point shooting. “We didn’t know they were going to play a zone, we had to adjust. They were long and they were out in the passing lanes. We had to step out and hit our shots and we did that today.”
“When they make deep threes, that’s not really bad defense,” Mullin said. “You have to give them credit; you have to make the shots. They made some deep shots. Some of them were open, but they were deep. You have to give the other team credit, they made shots.”
Despite Seton Hall’s onslaught from three, St. John’s weathered the storm, and opened the second half on an 8-0 run which cut the lead to 45-43. Marvin Clark II’s one-handed alley-oop in transition brought the lead to within two, one of many highlight-reel plays for the Johnnies.
As it did throughout the game, Seton Hall responded well to the St. John’s run and went on a 13-0 run that extended its lead to 58-43 with 13:03 remaining in regulation.
Just when the Pirates seemed primed to seize control of the game and run away, St. John’s responded with yet another scoring stretch that cut Seton Hall’s lead to 60-58. The Red Storm had a chance to tie things up at the free throw line, but missed the front end of a one-and-one.
St. John’s did not go down without a fight, but a technical foul issued to Mullin with the Red Storm trailing 65-62 halted their momentum. The Red Storm appeared to have some life when Tariq Owens slammed home a put-back dunk which made things 68-65, but, Angel Delgado had other ideas.
Delgado, who finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, converted a layup at the other end, and Rodriguez hit a floater in the lane with 15 seconds left that put the game on ice.
“I had it at the top and I cleared it out for four low [one of the team’s plays],” Rodriguez said. “I wanted to get fouled and go to the free throw line, but he was giving me the lane and I wanted to make a tough floater, so that’s what I did.”
Next up for Seton Hall is a trip to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Jan. 6, as the Pirates will compete against a Butler team riding high off an upset of No. 1 Villanova.
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.