NEWARK – After a sloppy, uneasy start, Seton Hall rode a floor general-like performance from Isaiah Whitehead to power past Dartmouth 84-67 in their season debut.
The first 10-plus minutes didn’t exactly catch anyone by surprise. Seton Hall and Dartmouth both racked up fouls – the Big Green had six just five minutes in – quite a few turnovers and missed plenty of shots early in what resembled more of a street ball game than Division I hoops.
It wasn’t until a sequence of pretty plays orchestrated by Isaiah Whitehead (18 pts, 8 asts, 5 rebs) late in the first half did the game really breathe any life. First, Whitehead scored on an acrobatic layup before missing the and-one, then the sophomore floor general combined with Angel Delgado (7 pts, 9 rebs) twice in the paint in a way not seen since March.
While Delgado and Whitehead are naturally looked upon as the leaders of this Seton Hall team, it was guys at the two through four spots that sparked Seton Hall out of the half and kept them even-keeled through the rest of the game. Ismael Sanogo (9 pts, 8 rebs), Desi Rodriguez (12 pts, 5 rebs) and Derrick Gordon (14 pts, 5 asts, 3 rebs) combined to score a quick four buckets out of the locker room, a stark contrast to slow starts from the Hall last season.
Dartmouth’s big man tandem of Connor Boehm (16 pts, 3 rebs) and freshman Evan Boudreaux (25 pts, 8 rebs) did their part in keeping the Big Green in the game as long as possible, but foul trouble and a Seton Hall offense that finally found their rhythm after continuously trying to push the tempo since the opening tip wore the visitors down.
Despite drawing Dartmouth into foul trouble early in both halves, Seton Hall’s inability to cash in at the line (22-43, 51%) is what kept the Ivy League school within arm’s reach for the middle portion of the second half. The Pirates had a better shooting percentage from the field than the line for much of the second half and the peculiar stat stayed that way until the final buzzer.
Although Rodriguez, Sanogo, Gordon and Delgado did their jobs as a supporting cast, it was Isaiah Whitehead that ultimately powered the Hall to victory. He stepped up his distribution tremendously from his scoring guard performance against Baruch in the Pirates’ exhibition, culminating in eight assists. While Whitehead did have three of Seton Hall’s 20 turnovers, his all came early in the game — the point guard was flawless thereafter.
If Seton Hall were just an average percentage from the charity stripe, they would have left Dartmouth in the Newark dust early in the second half, if not sooner.