Powell drops 27 points in No.12 Seton Hall's dismantling of Wagner, 105-71Date: November 6, 2019
By: Ben Harris
In their season opener, the No. 12 Seton Hall Pirates downed the Wagner College Seahawks, 105-71. This was Seton Hall's first 100-plus point game since 2010.
This is the second year in a row the Pirates and Seahawks have opened their respective seasons against each other, both games resulting in 30-plus point Seton Hall victories. Coming into this game, the Pirates were extremely heavy favorites to win, so the main storyline surrounding the matchup was head coach Kevin Willard.
This was the second and final game of Willard’s university-issued suspension for alleged recruitment infractions committed in the acquisition of power forward Taurean Thompson. In his place, assistant coach Grant Billmeier took over the acting head coach role for both tonight’s opening regular- season matchup, as well as the Pirates’ exhibition against Misericordia last Tuesday.
Coincidentally, Thompson did not play any minutes in the Wagner matchup, and when asked why during the post-game press conference, Coach Billmeier said that it was simply a “Coach’s decision.”
Coach Willard will return to the Pirates bench for Saturday’s matchup against Stony Brook. During the first half of the game, Seton Hall struggled to take advantage of offensive opportunities, and could not control their aggressiveness on defense. Over the course of the first half, the Pirates committed 14 fouls, most of them coming early and included a stretch of five in a row.
These fouls made the Pirates look like they were playing unorganized and without discipline defensively. Then offensively, the Pirates were not able to take advantage of the free- throw attempts they were given. They made just 15 of their 24 first-half free throws, shooting 62.5 percent from the line. Free throws could be a problem for the Pirates going forward this season. Based on their pure talent alone, the Pirates were able to carry themselves to a shaky 52-37 halftime lead.
There were some bright spots and flashes of brilliance in the first half. Big East Preseason Player of the Year Myles Powell had 15 points on just two misses in the first 20 minutes. We also saw exciting dunks from Sandro Mamukelashvili and Florida State transfer Ike Obiagu. But all in all, no one felt fully comfortable with how they played in the first half.
The second half showed the rightfully 12th ranked Seton Hall squad we had been expecting all night. Adjustments were made defensively, limiting the constant fouls and creating turnovers by playing the passing lanes. Sophomores Jared Rhoden and Anthony Nelson had two steals each in the second half. Rhoden really impressed, coming out of halftime and filling the stat sheet in all areas. He totaled 12 points, four rebounds, and two assists on the night.
The Pirates were able to limit turnovers as well, giving up the ball only four times compared to their six in the first half. They also improved their free-throw shooting, going a near-perfect 7/8 from the charity stripe. By creating transition opportunities, limiting easy mistakes, and playing their style of basketball, the Pirates showed a ton of improvement and potential during the second half.
Both teams had players providing big-time contributions. For the Hall, Powell had 27 points, and four rebounds to go with them. Quincy McKnight led the team in assists with seven, and the four-star freshman out of Canada, Tyrese Samuel led the team with six rebounds. For Wagner, center Patrick Szpir was their best player on the floor. Szpir put up a double-double, made of 12 points and 11 rebounds. Point guard Alex Morales led the Seahawks in scoring, posting a solid 17 points.
During the post-game press conference, Powell spoke about how the preseason hype of national rankings, accolades and awards affected him and his team, saying; “I wouldn’t call it pressure. I mean of course we’re excited, everybody has the first game jitters, it is the first game of the college basketball season. This is the highest that we’ve been ranked but I feel like coach has done a great job of telling us that the preseason rankings don’t mean anything. Last year we were ranked eighth coming in and we changed that in the blink of an eye. So, I like all these preseason rankings and all the preseason hype, it can go away so fast. I feel like coach has done a great job of reminding us about that.”
The Pirates will look to continue putting up big numbers in their next matchup, this Saturday, November 9, against the Stony Brook Seawolves. Stony Brook will enter this Weekend’s matchup 0-1, as they lost to Yale in their opening game. Liam Plate and Ronny Castaneda will be on the call for WSOU, so make sure to tune in and hear all the Seton Hall Pirates action on 89.5 FM.
Ben Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.