Pirates stun No. 23 Nova, cement postseason with 79-75 victoryDate: March 9, 2019
By Liam Plate
The Seton Hall men’s basketball team (18-12 overall, 9-9 conference) notched an important 79-75 win against the No. 23 Villanova Wildcats (22-9 overall, 13-5 conference) Saturday afternoon at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The Hall came out firing in the first half and the Wildcats were not prepared for it. Seton Hall’s energy was not matched throughout the entire half. Myles Powell and Myles Cale led the way as they both hit three three-pointers in the first half. Sandro Mamukelashvili helped underneath the basket with nine rebounds in the half. Also, Jared Rhoden came up big as well with nine points and bringing the energy off the bench as soon as he stepped on the court.
Quincy McKnight led the way for the Pirate defense once again as they held Phil Booth to three points and Eric Paschall to five points throughout the half. The Pirates took the Wildcats by storm and took an 11-point lead at the end of the half.
Villanova came out in the second half and matched the Pirates’ first half energy. They slashed Seton Hall’s lead in half and kept it close for the remainder of the game. Booth and Paschall stepped up big time for the Wildcats, but just as they were stepping up, the Pirates had players of their own step up to a higher level.
Rhoden had 15 points total in the game and was making the hustle plays all over the court. He made a huge impact in the short 13 minutes he played in the game. Cale was on fire from beyond the arc making 6 threes throughout the whole game and finishing with a total of 19 points.
The Pirates were more aggressive than Villanova underneath, outrebounding them 35-30, which 18 of those boards can be attributed to Mamukelashvili. He finished with a double-double as he added 12 points to his 18 boards. He did his share on defense by limiting the play of Villanova’s big men. Powell also came up big with his team-high 20 points.
The Pirates were able to stay cool, calm, and collected during the final minutes of the game as they played solid defense and made the most of their foul shots when it mattered most. Seton Hall shot 74% from the free throw line throughout the entire game, which played a crucial role for them to get the win.
As the team heads into the Big East tournament, Cale outlined what him and the rest of the team plans to do to keep their momentum going, “Keep my confidence going, listen to my teammates, do whatever coach needs me to do like play defense. Just practice hard…I’m not trying to do anything different. Just going there with my team and hopefully, we can go there and make some noise.”
Saturday was Senior Day for the Pirates and Head Coach Kevin Willard had some words to say about the team’s lone senior, Michael Nzei. “I’ll miss everything about Michael. He does not get enough credit…He’s a guy that takes a lot of pride in what he does and what this program needs. He’s done a phenomenal job passing that baton on to the other group of guys.”
With this win, the Pirates add another signature win onto their resume only strengthening their chances of reaching the NCAA Tournament and playing well into March.
Seton Hall will continue their season when they head into the Big East tournament on Thursday, March 14th at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
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