Myles Powell’s return sparked Seton Hall to come from behind and take down a DePaul team exceeding expectations in Chicago, 74-66. Powell led all scorers with 27 points and snagged five steals in his first game back from a concussion.
Last time Seton Hall played on the road, a hostile Rutgers side took advantage of the Pirates’ slow start to build a mammoth lead. Against DePaul, Seton Hall made just one of its first seven shots as the Blue Demons built a quick 7-2 lead, perhaps triggering a few early flashbacks to that disastrous afternoon down the Garden State Parkway.
This time, however, the Pirates responded, but Kevin Willard’s team endured a difficult opening half anyway. A pair of early three-pointers from Jared Rhoden gave the Pirates a 10-9 lead, but DePaul took advantage of numerous individual miscues to take a 37-31 lead into halftime.
While there were bright moments, nothing seemed to click for Seton Hall in the first half. The Pirates coughed up 11 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, most of which were simple mistakes. 7-foot-2 Romaro Gill found himself posterized late on and the team allowed seven offensive rebounds to a DePaul team enjoying a great season under head coach Dave Leitao.
Despite a first half full of errors, Seton Hall kept it close by leaning on strong defense, converting in transition, and getting to the line. DePaul also struggled to generate offense early, failing to take advantage of Seton Hall’s mistakes. Willard still had to burn two timeouts in the first half to keep it close, though, so getting the halftime adjustments right was paramount for Seton Hall.
Both sides found a shooting touch in the second half as the game’s pace and intensity ramped up. The Pirates retook the lead through Myles Cale, 46-45, with 14:48 to go and the two sides traded buckets the rest of the way. Nobody led by more than 5 down the stretch until the final minute.
Powell put in a talismanic performance as he took over late in the second half, producing the game’s pivotal moment with just over two minutes to play. The tricky senior drew a foul from beyond the arc with a James Harden-esque pump-and-lean move that he has been known to have up his sleeve. Powell hit all of his free throws to give the Pirates a 68-66 lead, and the visitors never looked back, ending the game on a 9-0 run.
Freshman forward Tyrese Samuel earned his first career start in his maiden Big East game. Samuel, who averaged 4.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game off the bench in non-conference play, was relegated to the sideline after starting 0-for-3 with two turnovers. He returned to the floor in the second half and was much better, posting seven points and six rebounds.
The Pirates who failed to impact the first half of the game stepped up in big ways after the break. Cale finished with 16 points, Samuel improved and Gill had four big blocks, coming up down the stretch on defense during key possessions.
Seton Hall improves to 9-4 on the season and will return to the Prudential Center against Georgetown on Jan. 3, seeking to build on their strong start to another grueling Big East campaign.
Kyle Beck can be reached at email@example.com. Find him on Twitter @notkylebeck.