Perimeter struggles hamper Seton Hall in 70-65 loss to Louisville

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NEWARK — Seton Hall shot just sixteen-percent from three and allowed scores of open looks including a dagger Ryan McMahon triple that ultimately doomed the Pirates in a disappointing 70-65 loss to Louisville.

The Pirates led 52-43 with 13:52 to play but squandered a series of quick possessions and Louisville quickly rattled off a trio of consecutive threes which would foreshadow how the game played out.

Highlighted by Myles Powell’s (23 pts, 6-19 fg) missed contested, off-balance three to tie the game in the closing seconds, Seton Hall’s decision making on the offensive side of the ball was very questionable.

“Offensively, we have to learn at times — especially at home, it seems that has happened two times we’ve been home — just understanding when to run offense and when to be more aggressive,” explained a frustrated Kevin Willard.

“We got some good looks late … but I thought we took a couple shots during the first half stretch and the second half stretch when we were up eight or nine that let them get in transition and get some easy looks.”

Even Louisville’s Chris Mack thought Powell’s look to tie the game was tough, so tough they didn’t choose to foul him before the shot.

“The three Myles Powell took at the end was a really, really tough look,” said Mack. “If they had been dribbling around, we probably would have elected to foul.”

However the turning point, at least offensively, came when Seton Hall was up 52-43.

Myles Cale and then Powell both missed a pair of threes, with the latter coming in transition on a two-on-one, and then Powell would miss on a drive to the tin.

The flurry of misses jump-started Louisville, who would hit three threes, and set Seton Hall into a three-plus minute drought, one of many on the day.

“I never mind Myles shooting a three, but I thought there was a couple where — especially on fast breaks, we fanned out and took a tough one where we could have got a layup — but we took one again in transition when we were up five, and they came down and banged a three,” said Willard of his team’s outside shooting.

“Getting this group to understand time and score, and opportunities, there’s no better way to do it (than) against these teams.”

While there were obviously struggles to score the ball, perimeter defense ultimately did Seton Hall in, as seen by Ryan McMahon’s big shot to go up 66-62 with 36 seconds to play.

Louisville was shooting 36-percent coming into the game and only made 33-percent of their 27 attempts, but it could have been a lot more and they seemed to get any look they wanted.

“McMahon hit a couple of big ones. I don’t know how we lose him late in the game, but the one with the loose ball is we had a freshman and a sophomore on the court going after it (Myles Cale, Anthony Nelson), and they went after it with one hand,” explained Willard.

“And they’ll learn that in those situations, you’ve gotta go after it with two hands and you’ve gotta get that loose ball when playing good defense.”

Although Powell had an off-day and needs to get back to finding his teammates, it seems like Willard and his players should be gearing up for opponents to home in on Seton Hall’s head honcho.

Everyone in the arena knew Powell was going to get the ball in the closing seconds — and it was probably the right call to force feed him — but the point is opponents should assume a little bit less that one guy is going to dominate the ball. Not just on the last play, but in general.

“I think the biggest thing is that the other guys have to get a little more confidence in the fact that they’re going to have to make a play,” said WIllard.

“It’s obviously tough because you want your main guy to have the rock, but those guys have to continue to get confidence that they’re going to get opportunities to make plays.”

Moving forward, Willard spoke of trying to get the ball in the paint a bit more, but in a different way. Scoring in the paint so far this season hasn’t been an issue on the bottom line, but it’s the way in which they do it.

Instead of low percentage drives — the Hall was 15-of-28 in layups today — feeding the post appears to be something look out for on the horizon.

“I talked to Angel (Delgado) out in California I said “It’s good to see my security blanket again.’ That’s something that we’re going to work on over the next couple weeks: Trying to get the basketball inside a little bit, just to get pressure toward the basket without it having to be a drive.”