The Friars looked shaky in possession to start the game, giving up two turnovers that would lead to fast-break points from Myles Cale and Shavar Reynolds. At 7-6, neither looked like they were going to have a particular good shooting night, but a layup from David Duke broke the three-minute scoring drought and set Providence up for a run.
After a tight opening five minute between the two sides, Providence started finding their stride from three-point range. The Friars opened the game shooting 3-for-4 from range with Brycen Goodine contributing two of those baskets as the Pirates’ mid-season defensive struggles from the perimeter continued. Seton Hall attempted nine three-point shots in the opening 10 minutes but failed to score any of them, a trend that would haunt them for most of the game.
Providence’s 8-2 run was stunted after David Duke went to the bench after getting his second foul of the game, opening the door for Seton Hall to put the game within one point.
Neither side was able to pull away from one another with the Pirates struggling to hit a three-point basket and the Friars constantly giving up turnovers. Seton Hall finished the first half shooting 0-for-13 from beyond the arc while Providence shot an efficient 4-for-7. The Friars, however, turned the ball over nine times in the first half and gifted Seton Hall 10 points off those turnovers in the first half.
The Pirates shot a rough 10-for-35 from the field to close out the first half with Cale and Sandro Mamukelashvili leading the way with six points. Jared Rhoden was big off the boards, providing four rebounds in the opening 20 minutes, but he struggled offensively failing to score from six shots. Providence’s dogged defensive style completely disrupted Seton Hall’s shooting in the first half and kept the Pirates at 22 points at the break, their lowest halftime points total of the season.
Mamukelashvili led the Pirates into the second half with renewed confidence. They opened the half on a 6-0 run, capitalizing on another Providence turnover with Rhoden hitting Cale on the fast break for a ferocious dunk.
Cale’s 19-point game stretched beyond his offensive contributions, though, as he also provided lockdown defense over Duke in the second half. The Friars guard failed to score a single basket in the second half, shooting just 2-for-8 from the field and giving up six of his team’s 16 turnovers the night.
Providence brought the game within one point with a 6-0 run of their own, but Tyrese Samuel’s three-point basket broke a 17-shot drought for the Pirates from the three-point range and put them back in front by four. With just over 10 minutes left in the game, Seton Hall had already scored four points from three turnovers and were starting to match the Friars rebound-for-rebound after losing out on a few easy boards in the first half.
Mamukelashvili finished the game strong, scoring two three-point baskets in the second half and leading the Pirates with 20 points. With seven rebounds and three assists as well, the Georgian forward delivered an all-encompassing performance that head coach Kevin Willard has come to expect of his senior.
Wednesday night’s win over Providence also meant Willard became the third coach in program history to reach the 200-win mark. Only PJ Carlesimo (212) and John “Honey” Russell (294) stand ahead of Willard for the title of all-time winningest coach in Seton Hall history.
On Saturday, Seton Hall will travel to Connecticut for their first game of the season against former Pirate Dan Hurley and his University of Connecticut team. Even in the absence of sophomore guard James Bouknight, UConn have started their Big East season with a 5-3 record and sit above Seton Hall in the Big East standings in fourth place. The last time these teams played each other was Feb. 10, 2013 when the Huskies claimed a 78-67 win over the Pirates at the Prudential Center.
Justin Sousa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JustinSousa99.