“Embarrassing” effort as Seton Hall nipped by Providence, 65-61

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Seton Hall overcame a 16-point deficit to tie the game with two to play, but ultimately dropped their second straight game by a single possession in a 65-61 loss at Providence.

Providence led by 16 points with 3 minutes to play in the second half, but a furious flurries from Desi Rodriguez (20 pts) at the end of both halves produced a comeback that was just nearly staved off by a Kyron Carwright-led (20 pts, 8 asts) Friars effort.

Holding nothing back, Kevin Willard absolutely ripped into his team on AM 970’s post-game radio show for a lack of effort after showing it just days prior in Milwaukee.

“That was an embarrassment of effort, it really is. I don’t understand it, I don’t know where its coming from. Too many people have worked too hard and come too far to put that on the floor. It was just an embarrassment.”

“We jogged around, giving up easy transition buckets. I have no idea. I’m so disappointed — I’m passed that. I’m more frustrated that this group can give effort that way after giving great effort [against Marquette]. I just don’t understand, with the importance of the road game. It’s embarrassing.”

“There’s guys that have heart on this team, but there’s guys on this team that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to … I don’t question the heart, I just don’t understand how we show up like that … This is an embarrassment, to play like we did at Milwaukee and then play like this, its unacceptable.”

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Seton Hall initially responded well to a familiar slow start and held a 12-10 lead midway through the half, but an early offensive advantage on the interior was overpowered by some dominant point guard play by Cartwright.

Providence was able to burn the Hall in transition and Cartwright couldn’t be kept out of the lane in the half court, a combination that prefaced a big but not crippling Friars run.

Ed Cooley used an effective zone defense to help induce a five-minute scoring drought that allowed a 15-0 Friars run that put the hosts up 32-18 with 3 minutes to play.

But after not scoring to that point, Desi Rodriguez hit consecutive threes and then drove for another bucket to spark a half-closing 10-0 run that brought Seton Hall back within 6.

In anticlimactic fashion, neither team scored for the first three minutes of the second half until a pair of Angel Delgado (12 pts, 16 rebs) buckets brought his team within three.  

Seton Hall wouldn’t get any closer as a stout Providence bunch kept them at arm’s length and within a possession or two until consecutive Khadeen Carrington (13 pts, 5 asts) buckets just prior to the under-eight brought the Pirates within two at 50-48.

The Hall was able to match the Frairs’ pace due to only turning the ball over twice from their run at the end of the half until the under-eight in the second half — a 14-minute span.

In a familiar situation with five to play and down seven, Seton Hall channeled muscle memory to stage a late comeback and tie the game at 57 with 2 to play after a big-time three-pointer from Rodriguez.

Desi and Emmitt Holt then traded buckets coming out of the final media break before he hit another jumper from the elbow to match a pair of Providence free-throws after Madison Jones (5 pts, 2 asts) fouled out.

The player of the game, Kyron Cartwright then converted an and-one play to put his guys up by three and the shot clock off.

After nearly losing the ball out of bounds, Kevin Willard then drew up a play that saw Carrington drive the near baseline and then find Myles Powell in the opposite corner for a good look that came with potentially uncalled contact after a front-end miss with five seconds to play.

The failed rally leaves Seton Hall with a two-game losing streak and a losing 2-3 Big East record heading into a Monday night game at Villanova in a venue they haven’t won at since 1993.

When asked by Gary Cohen post-game about what to do going forward, Willard answered quickly and ominously. 

“We’re going to make a little change. When we go to practice tomorrow morning, we’ll see what happens.”

“They might have to find their own way home. There’s an Amtrak [station] right down the street, they can take Amtrak home for all I care. This is more about us than the opposition.”