Away games in Omaha, Neb. have always been difficult tests for Seton Hall to overcome, and tonight’s loss to No. 7 Creighton was no different. Slow starts to both halves prevented the Pirates form establishing a foothold in the game, and an uncharacteristic number of turnovers throughout the night saw the team take one step forward and two steps back in their attempts to claw their way back into the game.
Wednesday night’s 89-53 loss was Seton Hall’s worst in the Big East since they lost to the University of Connecticut 99-57 back in 2006. The win for Creighton was also their third in a row over the Pirates having won both games between the two teams last season.
Led by senior forward Damien Jefferson, Creighton opened the night scoring seven field goals in a row. Jefferson went seven-for-nine from the field in the first half and led the Bluejays in scoring at 16 points by the end of the half. Marcus Zegarowski provided six points, three rebounds and three assists to help Creighton establish their 11-point lead heading into half time.
After just over five minutes, Bryce Aiken exited the game after rolling his right ankle over Zegarowksi’s foot. It was later revealed that Aiken had re-sprained the same ankle he had injured in the season-opener against Louisville. At half time, the Harvard grad-transfer was seen coming out of the locker room on crutches to join his teammates on the bench.
Jared Rhoden and Sandro Mamukelashvili combined for just 17 points in the first half as the Pirates shot nine-for-25 from the field and just seven-for-12 from the free throw line. Eight turnovers – four of which came from Shavar Reynolds – doused out the flames of any potential comeback Seton Hall appeared to be putting together in the first half. Nine turnovers in the second half further exemplified the all-around poor night the team had against Creighton.
Denzel Mahoney opened the second half for Creighton with a three-point basket and a jumper while Christian Bishop added two free throws in the opening minutes of the second half to extend the Bluejays’ lead to 17 points. Back-to-back 11-0 and 15-0 runs followed the Bluejays’ hot start as the Pirates failed to get a grip defensively in the game or establish a consistent offensive threat on the opposite side of the court.
- Creighton were relentless in their defensive tenacity and clinical finishing. The Bluejays shot 59.6% from the field and 54.2% from three-point range, scoring 13 shots from behind the arc. It was a combination of confident shooting for the Bluejays and poor defense from Seton Hall, but they also locked down the Pirates going forward and allowed them to shoot just 33.3% from the field 16.7% from three-point range. Seton Hall knew this was going to be their toughest game of the season so far, and head coach Kevin Willard admitted the changes he made to the lineup ahead of the game did not help the Pirates’ chances of coming out of Omaha with a win.
- Aiken’s out again, and it looks like Jahari Long will have the opportunity to back up Reynolds at point guard according to Willard in his post-game interview. It’s frustrating seeing the Harvard grad-transfer succumb these minor injuries so consistently, especially when it looked like he was starting to look like he was gaining confidence as a contributor from the bench. It’s not an ideal situation for Willard and the team to find themselves in, but Saturday’s game against DePaul could be a big night for Long to make a claim for more minutes as the season progresses.
- It was a night of regression from the free throw line for Seton Hall as they shot just 16-for-27 on the night. Rhoden, Mamukelashvili and Tray Jackson were all perfect from the line, but the rest of the team could not find the composure to hit their shots. This was a bit of a salt-in-the-wounds statistics as the Pirates looked like they had finally gotten over this Achilles heel of their game, but it was no surprise the team struggled from the charity stripe in an overall bad game.
Justin Sousa can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinSousa99.