After Myles Powell carried Seton Hall throughout its showdown with Michigan State earlier this week, his teammates returned the favor and led the way in a tough road environment on Sunday.
As Powell struggled to find his shot in the opening minutes, eight different Seton Hall players scored and accounted for the Pirates’ first 17 points in an 83-66 win over Saint Louis.
Seton Hall jumped out to an 18-3 lead and never looked back, as it staved off a handful of Saint Louis runs with some timely shots from Powell and contributions across the board. Even with Ike Obiagu and Romaro Gill in foul trouble throughout the game, the Pirates benefitted from a complete team effort to down the Billikens. Sandro Mamukelashvili finished with 17 points and three rebounds, while Quincy McKnight added 12 points, four rebounds and two assists.
After Seton Hall built an early 15-point lead, Saint Louis slowly started working its way back into the game thanks to a stretch of sloppy and unproductive offense by the Pirates. Even as Seton Hall occasionally struggled to find the bottom of the net for brief stretches, it found a way to keep Saint Louis at bay. The closest Saint Louis got was 26-18, but two free throws from Powell, who finished with 26 points, snapped the Billikens’ 7-0 run and put Seton Hall back up by double digits. After the free throws, By halftime, the Pirates held a 46-31 lead despite Obiagu picking up four fouls and Gill recording three. as Powell got hot at the end of the half due in large part to Kevin Willard’s adjustment to Saint Louis’ 1-3-1 zone press.
Seton Hall opened the second half in a zone defense of its own and stayed in rhythm on offense, quickly building a 22-point lead. Saint Louis spent the rest of the half working to cut into Seton Hall’s lead, but never got closer than 18 as the Pirates closed out the game outscoring the Billikens by two in the second half.
-Seton Hall’s depth stepping up to the occasion while Myles Powell worked to get going speaks volumes about the balance of this team. There might not yet be an established No. 2 scoring option opposite Powell, but there doesn’t need to be one if a group of players can consistently step up on any given night.
-The Pirates did a great job containing Saint Louis point guard Yuri Collins, which was a point of emphasis entering the day. Collins entered the game averaging 8.3 assists per game, but was limited to only five thanks to the defensive efforts of Quincy McKnight, Anthony Nelson and Shavar Reynolds. With Collins seldom facilitating, Saint Louis’ offense sputtered and did not operate to its peak efficiency.
-The rate at which Ike Obiagu picks up fouls is alarming, to say the least. That was his biggest issue at Florida State and clearly it’s still a problem. When he can play defense without fouling, Obiagu is a menace with his physicality and shot-blocking ability. Unfortunately, he simply has not been able to figure out how to avoid whistles.
-Not only did Obiagu foul out, but so did Romaro Gill. That has to be something Seton Hall emphasizes moving forward. The Pirates cannot afford to play without their big men for extended stretches against better competition. Sandro Mamukelashvili can survive playing the five, but he’s better off at power forward and so is Seton Hall’s offense.
-Why was Obiagu left in the game long enough to pick up four fouls in the first half? Gill wasn’t in good shape with three fouls of his own, but there’s no way Obiagu should’ve been on the court with three, let alone four, fouls. Kevin Willard is typically active with his substituting, so it’s surprising that he left him out there.
-It was a relatively quiet game for Myles Cale offensively, but per the usual, he was efficient and did a lot of things defensively that don’t show up on the box score. It’s no wonder that he continues to play 30 minutes per game even when he’s not filling it up on offense.
-No Taurean Thompson even with the Pirates blowing out Saint Louis in the second half. What’s it going to take for him to get in a game?
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at email@example.com. Find him on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.