Jared Rhoden scored 19 points in Seton Hall's regular season finale as the Pirates downed the Creighton Blue Jays 65-60 on Saturday to enter the Big East Tournament with a win. Alexis Yetna followed up with his eighth double-double of the season to go with Jamir Harris' 14 points and Tyrese Samuel's 11.
The Pirates came into the afternoon as the sixth seed in the conference, meaning they would be the highest-seeded team without a bye in the Big East Tournament. However, with a win over Creighton and a St. John's win over Marquette on Saturday night, Seton Hall could secure a bye from the first round of the conference's tournament.
In the teams' last matchup on Feb. 4, Seton Hall took an insurmountable 23-3 lead in the first half that eventually led to a 19-point victory. Saturday's game did not see a lead of that magnitude once.
With both teams playing some of their hottest basketball of the year, neither conceded early. In fact, the Blue Jays got out to an 11-point lead in the first half that the Pirates had to claw back from in order to take a one-point, 31-30 lead into the locker rooms at halftime.
Despite the lead, Creighton seemed to have the momentum, as not only was Pirate center Ike Obiagu in foul trouble, but point guard Kadary Richmond was forced off the floor thanks to a right thumb injury that sidelined him for the entirety of the game.
With Richmond out, the graduate senior Harris was forced to take a larger role, a role he assimilated into with ease as he led The Hall with 8 points and 3 rebounds in the first half.
Out of the locker room in the second half it became time for Rhoden, the Pirates' leader, to take over with his bread and butter: his midrange jumper. His move allowed him to poke holes in the Creighton defense, putting up 13 points and 3 rebounds in the second half and finishing with 19 and 6.
The Canadian Samuel backed him up with 8 points while Harris dropped another 6 on two three-pointers.
Yetna, the French transfer from USF, kept the Pirates alive on the glass, coming down with 11 rebounds, including 8 in the second half, and 11 points.
After the game, head coach Kevin Willard confirmed that Richmond would not miss any of the Big East Tournament, a massive development for a team that needs him running point on offense.
The Pirates finished the regular season with 8 wins in their last 10 games, including five straight wins to close the campaign.
When they play their first Big East Tournament game will depend on if St. John's can beat Marquette on Saturday night. If the Johnnies go down, the Pirates will face Georgetown in the first round on Wednesday. If not, the Pirates and Blue Jays will face each other once again on Thursday.