No.12 Seton Hall defeats No.10 Villanova on the road for the first time in 26 yearsDate: February 8, 2020
By: Liam Plate
For the first time in 26 years, the Seton Hall Pirates (18-5 overall, 10-1 conference) defeated the Villanova Wildcats (17-6 overall, 7-4 conference) in Philadelphia. The Pirates won by a score of 70-64 in a game that went back and forth between the two teams.
Seton Hall started the game out strong jumping out to a 10-point lead in the first half. The Pirates had great ball movement and were able to spread the offensive attack. Myles Powell scored nine points in the first half, but McKnight shined bright with six points, five rebounds, and three and-one plays.
Towards the end of the half, Villanova stepped up their game and took the lead towards the end of the half. By the end of the half, Seton Hall was playing sloppy and did not take good care of the basketball as the Pirates turned the ball over 10 times, which led to Villanova leading at the end of the first half 31-27. Seton Hall really fell apart towards the end and they definitely needed the halftime break.
In the second half, Seton Hall was a completely different team. The Pirates came out strong and were able to keep a steady small lead on the Wildcats with the exception of a few ties. Sandro Mamukelashvili came up big towards the 12 points in the half along with six rebounds.
Mamukelashvili was all over the floor and doing it on both sides with efficient scoring and impressive defense underneath the basket. Most of the credit needs to go to the Pirates defense and to payers such as Jared Rhoden and Shavar Reynolds. Rhoden played effective defense against Villanova’s big men alongside Mamukelashvili.
Reynolds, along with McKnight, was able to limit Gillespie to only 12 points throughout the game as he went 0-for-5 from downtown when he is usually one of Villanova’s best three-point shooters. In crunch time, it was clutch free throws and smart defense by the Pirates that helped them secure the 70-64 victory. In Saturday’s matchup, Powell became Seton Hall’s all-time three-point leader and after the game, Villanova allowed Powell to have the game ball to commemorate this historic milestone.
After the game, Villanova head coach Jay Wright summarized why they lost the game by saying: “They just played better than us. We didn’t play poorly. We have to play better to beat one of the best teams in the country.”
With this victory Seton Hall earns their eighth Quad-One win, head coach Kevin Willard commented on what those wins show about his teams when he said; “More than anything, when I look at all the Quad 1 wins, all the road wins, I just think it shows the toughness of these kids.”
With this win, Seton Hall remains at the top of the Big East with a 10-1 conference record. The Hall owns a three-game lead of the second-place Wildcats. No. 12 Seton Hall will be back in action on Wednesday, Feb. 12 when they host the No. 21 Creighton Bluejays at 6:30 p.m.
Liam Plate can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.