Seton Hall’s loss to St. John’s on Saturday night was the final kick in the teeth for a team floundering into the post-season. Back-to-back losses to Butler and Georgetown were followed by back-to-back losses to the University of Connecticut on Senior Night and the Redstorm in games that could have pushed the Pirates to as high as third in the Big East standings.
Even after starting the game on an 18-0 run and heading into half time with a 10-point lead, the Pirates still failed to close out the game. St. John’s took advantage of a complacent Seton Hall team right from the start of the second half, and the Redstorm claimed their own 10-point victory over the Pirates by a score of 81-71.
The first six minutes of the game looked as though the Pirates had snapped out of their funk. Sandro Mamukelashvili and Jared Rhoden led the team with six points each, and Ike Obiagu contributed four of his own. St. John’s had not won a single offensive rebound and were 0-for-10 from the field to start the game.
The Redstorm finally got on the scoreboard through a layup from Dylan Addae-Owusu at the 13-minute mark. Greg Williams Jr. and Julian Champagnie added a pair of points each to reduce Seton Hall’s lead to 13, but Myles Cale came up with a momentum-killing three-point basket to amke it 23-7 heading into the second media timeout.
St. John’s pulled themselves within six points at the under-seven, but a pair of three-point baskets from Shavar Reynolds and Bryce Aiken helped the Pirates keep thier opponents at arm’s length. Although their lead was reduced to 10 points by half time, Seton Hall shot 46.43% from the field and 4-for-10 from beyond the arc.
The start of the second half told an entirely different story, though, as St. John’s came out with a reinvigorated desire to win. Within the first three minutes of the half, the Redstorm pulled the game within two points after going on a 12-4 run with Champagnie leading the way with four points.
Marcellus Earlington gave St. John’s their first lead of the game with 14 minutes left in the second half through his second three-point basket of the game. His triple also sparked the start of 12-0 run that Addae-Wusu capped off with a three-point basket of his own and a pair of made free throws.
Now down by 10, Seton Hall were almost lifeless in their attempts to reclaim the lead. They shot 0-for-4 over St. John’s 12-0 run and, having dominated St. John’s in the back court at the start of the first half, were being out-rebounded once again by their opponents.
Seton Hall foud themselves within six points of tying the game with 2:30 left in the second half, but another Earlington three-point basket gave St. John’s some breathing room down the stretch. Aiken’s third three-point basket of the game with 38 seconds left made it a five-point game, but the Pirates did not close the gap. St. John’s finished the game scoring five of their six free throws to complete the second half comeback for their 81-71 win.
The Redstorm out-performed Seton Hall in just about every scoring category but points in the paint. They were ahead of the Pirates in fast break points by 24-16, second chance points by 12-11, points off turnovers by 15-9 and points from the bench by 33-16. Aiken scored 10 of those points for the Pirates off the bench with Tyrese Samuel and Takal Molson combining for the other six.
With the Big East Tournament starting next Wednesday on Mar. 10, Seton Hall head into thier first game 13-12 ovrall and 10-9 in the conference. Because Xavier lost to Marquette on Saturday night as well, the Pirates will face the Redstorm once again in their tournament opener.
Beyond the conference tournament, Seton Hall also still have hopes of potentially making the NCAA Tournament. Their resume has taken massive hits over the past few weeks with these four straight losses, though, and it looks like a big run at the Big East Tournament might be their saving grace.
Justin Sousa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JustinSousa99.