No.8 Seton Hall narrowly missed out on clinching Big East title in loss to Villanova, 79-77Date: March 5, 2020
By: Dalton Allison
Seton Hall will have to wait until at least Saturday to wear the Big East regular season crown. On Wednesday night, they fell to the Villanova Wildcats, 79-77 in the Prudential Center.
The game opened on a two-minute scoring drought, which would be the exact opposite of the way the rest of the game played out. Once Jeremiah Robinson-Earl broke the ice with a three- point shot, a litany of different ways to score made themselves evident over the course of the evening. After the early two-minute scoring drought, Villanova entered the Under-16 timeout with a 10-7 lead.
Pitching in a consistently herculean effort throughout the evening was senior Quincy McKnight, who at one point led the Pirates in scoring, rebounding, and assists. “It was tough on an emotional night like this, but they played an amazing game tonight,” McKnight said following the game.
McKnight was one of four seniors who were being celebrated tonight at the Prudential Center. Alongside McKnight, Myles Powell, Romaro Gill, and Asiah Avent were honored with a pregame ceremony. All of them also received the starting nod for the game as well.
The senior from Bridgeport, Conn., finished the game with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. It was because of his tenacity that the Pirates at one point in the game held a 27-22
advantage over the Wildcats. The lead would dwindle as the clock winded down in the first half, thanks to the hot scoring hand of Justin Moore, who alongside Colin Gillespie, paced the Wildcats in scoring for the first half with 8 points. Villanova led the Hall 33-30 going into the halftime intermission.
It was in the second half that Villanova began to distance themselves from Seton Hall. Following a pair of dunks that were missed by Gill at the onset of the second half, the Wildcats answered by striking a pair of three-point baskets off of the hands of Moore and Jermaine Samuels.
The lead that Villanova built over Seton Hall peaked at 53-39, thanks to a several minute scoring drought on behalf of the Hall. Just when it seemed like Senior Night was going to be a total wash for the Pirates, they began to find their groove.
They made the label of them being a second half team ring true, as the scoring started to come alive. Sandro Mamukelashvili found his touch both down low and, on the outside, and punished the Wildcats with his ability to stretch the floor. His physicality, which has increased along with his accolades, helped guide Mamu to 13 second half points. This was done on 5-6 shooting, including 2-2 from three-point range.
After cutting the Nova lead to 76-70 with 33 seconds remaining, the teams began to exchange blows and free throw opportunities. Thanks to hitting three corner threes, Shavar Reynolds not only hit his career high in points with 12 points, but brought the Pirates to 79-77.
With an opportunity to win the game with three seconds remaining, Myles Cale had a clean look to hit a game winning shot in the left corner. The shot would not fall, and Villanova escaped the Prudential Center with a 79-77 victory over Seton Hall. After the game, Kevin Willard expressed a sense of optimism looking forward to Saturday.
“Emotionally it is going to take us a little time to get over this one…this hurts now but it doesn’t take anything away from what this team has done.”
Seton Hall will have the opportunity to claim sole possession of the Big East regular season title on Saturday, as they travel to Nebraska to take on the Creighton Bluejays. Coverage begins on WSOU at 2 p.m., with Wilnir Louis and Michael Daly broadcasting the game.
Dalton Allison is Sports Director at 89.5 FM, WSOU. He can be reached at email@example.com.