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Despite the loss, Seton Hall guard Kadary Jackson scored 16 points during Big East game against Villanova on Feb. 11 (Photo by Jillian Cancela/Photo Editor)

Seton Hall Falls to No. 15 Villanova in Classic

In the latest chapter of the top rivalry in the Big East, Kadary Richmond and Tray Jackson each had 16 points in a nailbiting 73-67 loss to No. 15 Villanova on Saturday afternoon.

The Pirates would once again have to navigate the rough waters of a ranked matchup without point guard Bryce Aiken. The sixth-year graduate student that averages 14.5 points per game sat out of his seventh consecutive game after suffering a concussion on Jan. 15 against Marquette.

Despite their top shooter being out, the Pirates pulled the trigger from deep and kept hitting to start. Seton Hall attempted 14 three-pointers and hit seven of them, including three from graduate guard Myles Cale and two from sophomore point guard Kadary Richmond.

Richmond led the game in points after the initial 20 minutes, entering the locker room with 11 points after shooting 3-5 from the floor.

The Pirate shooting and defense kept them ahead, as they shot 44% from the floor and limited Villanova to 39% from the floor and 25% from deep.

However, the inside attack was limited. A 16-6 scoring deficit in the paint was emblematic of an offensive issue on the interior. This, combined with the Pirates' 10 turnovers that led to 14 Wildcat points, kept the game close with a 32-29 score at halftime.

The second half continually teetered back and forth, with 9 lead changes and 7 ties throughout the course of the game's 40 minutes.

Jackson kept the offense afloat, dropping 11 points in the second half, including a sequence of back-to-back three's that gave the Pirates the lead with 3:16 left.

Alexis Yetna did not blow up the score sheet, only dropping 6 points, but he wiped the boards clean, coming down with 15 rebounds, 8 more than anyone else on the floor.

The game was tied with as little time as 1:54 left, but some bad bounces and unfortunate tips led to two consecutive offensive rebounds for Villanova and the game was pretty much sealed with under a minute to go.

Cale said of his team's performance, "For the full 40 minutes I think we played well. Villanova is a great team and very well-coached. Coach [Kevin Willard] wasn't even mad at us when we came back to the locker room. He said, 'We have two great programs going up against each other and it comes down to the last few seconds.'"

Despite the loss, head coach Kevin Willard was far from disappointed in his team's effort against an imposing opponent.

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"I'm proud of my guys," Willard said. "We had a tough one Wednesday night. Thursday we didn't do much, yesterday was short. Quick turnaround, early game. I'm proud of my guys. Like I said, I love this team, I love their effort. We had our chances. Again, you have to give them credit. They made plays at the end and you have to give them all the credit. They made two huge plays, two huge rebounds, and that's what I love about Jay [Wright's] teams and the kids on his teams. They make a lot of winning plays."

Wright returned praise to his Big East rival.

"I really think they can beat anyone in the country, and they have," Wright said. "Look what happened when Purdue went into Michigan. Look what happened when Seton Hall went into Michigan. Our conference is the best basketball conference in the country."

This hard-fought loss should not bother the Pirates too much, as they are still winners in 3 of their last 4 and have another opportunity to bolster their resume in Connecticut on Wednesday night.

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