The Pirates fend off a late run by Xavier, in 83-71 winDate: January 9, 2020
By: Ben Harris
On Wednesday night, the Seton Hall Pirates men’s basketball team defeated the Xavier Musketeers in Cincinnati, Ohio, 83-71, earning their fifth straight victory.
This win on the road was not only the Pirates fifth straight win, it was also their third straight win in the Big East. They have started their conference schedule undefeated, previously defeating DePaul in Chicago, and Georgetown at home in the Prudential Center. This win moves Seton Hall into first place in the Big East standings for the moment.
Providence and Butler are also undefeated within the conference, however, Butler has only played two conference games so far. The Friars also have three wins, but they have a worse out-of-conference record, awarding the Hall the tiebreaker.
In the first half, the Pirates shot blocking and defensive success led to easy offense on the other end. Ike Obiagu and Romaro Gill were stuffing seemingly every Musketeer shot that came into the lane, combining for four blocks in the first half alone.
These emphatic blocks, along with other defensive stops allowed the Pirates to space out their offense and go on a 21-5 run. The run spanned for about eight and a half minutes and really changed the course of the remainder of the game.
Then in the second half saw success and failure alike, but ultimately the Pirates were able to hold onto their lead until the final buzzer. Defensively, Gill added four more blocks after halftime, rounding his total out to five on the night. But overall, the Pirates defense regressed in the second half, especially late.
After building up a game-high 16-point lead, Xavier was able to cut it down to just a four-point lead with under two minutes left. This was due to the Musketeers seven second-chance points in the second half, after having none in the first. These second-chance points in addition to late-game turnovers almost put the Pirates in serious trouble.
Sophomore forward Jared Rhoden, who scored a career high 16 points, turned around the late- game bad luck with a clutch steal that was converted in transition by Myles Powell and Gill to realign the Pirates in just enough time to finish in the lead. As for Xavier, they saw a lot of production coming from behind the arc. Naji Marshall, who scored his 1000th point for the Musketeers in the loss, went 2/5 from three, and 7/7 from the free throw line in his 40 minutes on the floor. Paul Scruggs and Jason Carter also found success from deep, going 3/3 and 2/4 respectively.
Powell, Rhoden and Quincy McKnight impressed offensively as all three scored 15 or more points. Powell led the Pirates with 24 points, in addition to nine rebounds and four assists. A stat sheet stuffing night for the Wooden Watchlist guard in the Queen City. McKnight was a key distributor for the Hall, gathering eight assists.
The Seton Hall men’s basketball team will play their next game at home in Newark against Markus Howard and the Marquette Golden Eagles this Saturday, Jan. 11.
Ben Harris can be reached at email@example.com.