Seton Hall stumbles against Marquette

The Seton Hall men’s basketball team lost to the visiting Marquette Golden Eagles, 88-85 at the Prudential Center on Wednesday.  The defeat drops the Pirates to 17-7 and 6-5 in the Big East, and Marquette moves to 14-10, 5-7. Desi Rodriguez led the Pirates with 21 points, and Markus Howard paced the visitors with 32.

Coming into the game, the Pirates were looking to rebound from a tough loss on the road to No. 1 Villanova, which had dropped them to fifth in the Big East standings at tipoff. Marquette, following four straight losses, entered Newark searching for a statement win to boost both its conference record and a chance at a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

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Marquette’s potent offense, led by Howard, caused the Pirates problems all night. The Golden Eagles made 63 percent of their three-point shots and made 87 percent of their free throws. Coach Kevin Willard explained the struggles the Pirates had containing Marquette’s best shooters.

“You can’t let all three of them get going,” Willard said. “We got beat a lot, and when they do that, guys have to step up and help and rotate a lot, and they did a good job finding open guys.”

The Pirates, who typically excel on the boards behind all-time Big East rebounding leader Angel Delgado, struggled on the glass Wednesday. Marquette out-rebounded the Hall by 10 and in doing so, took away the Pirates’ ability to create second chances and allowed the visitors to generate extra opportunities of their own.

“That wasn’t our best effort today,” Rodriguez said after the game. “We weren’t able to get out because we weren’t rebounding, so we couldn’t play our game, and that was our downfall today.”

The Golden Eagles’ hot shooting continued in the second half, and as the visitors did what they do best, Seton Hall failed to capitalize on their chances to get back in the game, making only 61 percent of their free throws and missing several layups down the stretch. The Pirates ended up mounting a late run and cutting the gap to as little as two points following three foul shots from Desi Rodriguez with nine seconds to play, but the Pirates could not get any closer.

“It’s frustrating because you really don’t want to lose home-court advantage, but there’s nothing we can do about it now.,” Ismael Sanogo said. “It’s on to the next one now.”

However, at 6-5 in the Big East, the senior acknowledged that time remains to right the ship.

“We’re still in a good spot at the end of the day,” Sanogo said. “There’s no need to hit the panic button.”

The Pirates will look to bounce back when they travel to Washington, D.C. for a tilt against Georgetown on Feb. 10.

Kyle Beck can be reached at kyle.beck@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @notkylebeck.