Defense, crowd wills No. 10 Seton Hall past DePaul on off night

Wendell Cruz/FinishFirstPhotos

NEWARK (N.J.) — Over the course of a season, let alone a ten-game win streak, even a top-ten team is bound to have off nights. Seton Hall certainly had one of those tonight in their 64-57 win over DePaul.

6-of-27 from three. 14-of-29 from the free throw line. 20 turnovers.

Those are the stats of a losing team.

Yet despite posting headache-inducing numbers in just about every statistical category on offense, the Pirates held at least a two possession lead for the final 4:31 after Myles Powell’s (24p, 7-21 fg) Advil-like three took the edge off and put the icing on nine unanswered points and in retrospect, the game.

That says something about a team.

Powell played what he deemed one of his “roughest games in a while” and was spotted getting chewed out by Kevin Willard at the beginning of his second half scoring barrage when he turned the ball over for the fourth time on the night.

“Yeah, y’all know me and Coach’s relationship. There’s not too many times of the game that he’s not yelling at me,” joked Powell.

“I don’t know if the camera catches it. He pulls me aside and it looks like he’s encouraging me but he’s just yelling at me. He knows that that gets to me [positively]. He knows that sometimes when he wants to yell at other kids he just yells at me but he knows that I can take it.

“You guys have been hearing me say it since I’ve been at Seton Hall, Coach is like a father figure to me. There’s nothing that he can say, any cuss word that he can say at me that will make me look at him different or feel some type of way. I feel like nowadays some players forget it’s okay to be coachable.

“That’s how I look at it, Coach is just trying to make me better. Why would he yell at me to mess my head up? At the end of the day he’s just doing it to get me better, to get me to play a little harder. Clearly it worked [laughs]. I don’t remember [what he said, laughs].”

Kevin Willard shrugged off the exchange, and added some comedy while he was at it.

“I was just trying to encourage him. He was struggling, and every once in a while, you don’t have your A-game, and I just wanted to tell him to keep on attacking. Sometimes the building’s loud, you just have to yell [smiles]. … That’s why I was having that nice conversation with him that you brought up, to just kind of stay with it and don’t worry about it.”

Like Myles said, it clearly worked as the All-American went on to score 10 of his 24 in the four minutes of clock immediately after, taking the game into his hands.

But despite the takeover, Powell deferred credit.

“It was really my teammates, my coaching staff never giving up on me, not letting me hang my head,” said the Trenton native.

“This was probably one of the roughest games that I’ve had in awhile. If it wasn’t for my teammates and my coaching staff for picking me up and not letting me hang my head I wouldn’t have finished the way I did, so I owe it all to them.”

Powell was helped by yet another balanced effort from Quincy McKnight (9p, 6a, 4s) and Jared Rhoden’s (14p, 11r) second double-double and sixth double figures game in his last nine games despite Sandro Mamukelashvili’s limited return from a fractured wrist.

Only a footnote in the box score with an impressive attendance of 9,302, the Prudential Center crowd gets a big assist tonight after they overcame a first half malaise due to the ugly nature of play.

Usually complimentary of the crowd, Powell was sure to give credit where it’s due.

“It was just like a relief, for them sticking with me,” he said of interacting with the student section after his dagger three.

“Every time I shoot I hear the crowd going ‘woo’ like they think it’s going in. Our game was at 6:30 on a Wednesday and our fans still found a way to get here and support us. … They stuck with me and I just wanted to give back some love. … I just went down the other end to get our crowd back involved. I love our fans, I have five home games left and I want to keep making them happy.”

Despite some turbulence tonight, Seton Hall is certainly making them happy as wins are all that matter at the end of the day.

“It’s a game that we learn from. Every game that we go into right now we’re just learning. We had a slow start. That’s going to happen. We’re going to have slow starts, not scoring the ball,” said McKnight.

“The good thing about us when we don’t score the ball, we play good on defense. That’s the biggest thing about us, when we’re not scoring we’re going to get stops. Stops, stops, stops.

“That’s how we stay in the game. It shows how tough we are at the end of the day.”