Seton Hall's Collective Scoring Leads to Win Over NJITDate: November 18, 2017
(Photo: SHU Athletics)
By: James Justice
The Seton Hall men's basketball team returned to the Prudential Center for their fourth game in eight days, winning 82-53 over NJIT to improve to 4-0 on the young season.
The game pitted the No. 22 ranked team in the AP poll against a team that was ranked No. 296 in the most recent KenPom standings.
Despite this disparity, NJIT were able to keep the Pirates within touching distance for most of the first half as the home side shot poorly for most of the first half. The slow start today was not the first for the Pirates this season, although head coach Kevin Willard was not too discouraged talking about it after the game.
"Especially when you play local teams, you're going to get their best shot in the first 10, 12, 13 minutes," Willard said. "We had some good runs early it was just [a matter of] sustaining that energy early on. But, for the most part I felt comfortable with where we were."
The surprising spark for the Pirates team coming out of the second first half media timeout was Eron Gordon, who contributed four points out of the break.
Meanwhile, Desi Rodriguez continued to show the best version of himself, as the senior had seven of the Hall's first 18 points. Rodriguez eventually finished with a team-leading 19 points and seven rebounds.
"My hopes are high right now I just have to keep going," Rodriguez said. "Just stay consistent, be dominant every game and help my team win."
An alert backcourt of Khadeen Carrington and Myles Powell helped the Pirates take a nine-point lead into the break as they combined for back-to-back fast-break scores, followed by a Carrington drive and finish with two seconds left.
But almost all the positive energy that the Pirates took to halftime was erased by the Highlanders out of the break with a 5-0 run by the Highlanders that cut the lead back to four.
The struggle to create offense was evident as Rodriguez was the only double-digit scorer for the Pirates eight minutes into the second half. And with the lead still a fragile ten points with 13:40 remaining, Rodriguez was pulled out of the game after picking up his fourth personal foul.
With fans becoming impatient, Powell answered their wishes with a three-pointer at just the right time to extend the Pirates lead to 53-36, becoming the second Seton Hall player to reach double figures in points in the process.
With Powell subbed out, the source of excitement inside the Prudential Center once again became Gordon with a spinning and-one that gave the Pirates their largest lead of the game to that point at 56-38.
The Pirates finally began to show their gulf in talent as the likes of Myles Cale, Carrington and Sandro Mamukelashvili added to the scoring as Seton Hall extended their lead from a single-digit margin at the under-12 timeout to a 23-point lead four minutes later.
"We were just kind of sluggish [to start] and weren't crisp with our offense," Rodriguez said. "We just needed to find a way to get stops. As long as we got stops and ran our offense, we were able to make runs."
The scoring surge was a collective effort for the five on the floor, although noticeably, that five did not include Angel Delgado, who sat out for almost the entire second half. Willard said after the game that the reason for this exclusion was precautionary, due to concern following a tangling of legs in the second half.
"In one of the last drives [he was in] he tripped over Abdul [Lewis's] leg," Willard said. "I just was not going to put him back in; he's logged a lot of minutes early in the season."
Even without Delgado, who did not register a double-double for the first time since the Big East Tournament semifinal against Villanova, the Pirates were able to close out the Highlanders as Rodriguez checked back in to help a rotation that collectively pulled Seton Hall away.
The Pirates will be back in action on Thanksgiving Day where they begin the two-game NIT Tip-Off Tournament against Rhode Island.
James Justice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JamesJusticeIII.