New York — Seton Hall looked second-best all night and were never truly able to recover from an early 28-5 deficit in a 78-70 loss that further damages their NCAA hopes.
In a cross-river rivalry game chock full of NCAA implications, Seton Hall looked woefully unprepared for a revenge-centric St. John’s team.
Before they could blink, the Pirates found themselves in a 28-5 hole with more passes off of the backboard than field goals made.
Despite cutting their deficit to 30-20 with four to play after a 15-2 pulse-checking run, Seton Hall would cough up their momentum and finish the half with 15 turnovers — a season staple.
After stabilizing a very damaged ship, the Garden got a little restless when the Pirates trimmed their deficit to 40-31 early in the second half, but St. John’s would answer once again to the tune of a 12-2 run that bumped the deficit closer to 20 than ten.
Apparently trying to channel their first meeting comeback, Seton Hall looked keen on doing the impossible and clawed all the way back to trail just 68-63 with 1:46 to play before a pair of — you guessed it — turnovers squashed the rally.
All things considered, Seton Hall’s first half was their worst 20 minutes of hoops all season. They were taken to the cleaners in second halves against Nebraska and Villanova, but given the NCAA implications heading into tonight, it’s hard to fathom how unprepared the Hall looked early on. There weren’t the team missing a starter who averages 15.4 ppg and 4.9 rpg (Mustapha Heron).
What can be done to address the (early) turnover issues that continue to surface? Turn it over ten-plus times in a half, fool me once. Turn it over ten-plus times in a half for what seems like the tenth time this season and some sort of solution needs to be found. While Quincy McKnight’s five turnovers really amplified the downhill nature of the first half, he’s far from the only one to blame and his assist:turnover ratio now sits at 107:70; Seton Hall had 15 mistakes to 20 points at the half and finished with 22 after a fairly clean second half.
NCAA tournament hopes are quickly fading. Seton Hall was feeling fairly safe heading into the week, but losses to Xavier and St. John’s now have them in some murky water with work to do. Winning two of their next three and one win at the Big East Tournament is my minimum requirement to feel close to 50-50 shot come Selection Sunday. They probably need more than that.