NEWARK — Down two seniors and looking to avoid the seven-seed at the Big East Tournament, Khadeen Carrington and Angel Delgado dug deep to propel Seton Hall past Butler, 77-70.
The Senior Night ceremony was everything it needed to be. I’ve been to a handful of senior nights over the years, some of which had no more than a couple hundred fans in their seats for the pre-game festivities. That was far from the case tonight, and it was fitting. Kevin Willard, Angel Delgado, and Desi Rodriguez had tears streaming down their faces while Ish Sanogo was surprisingly chipper in his street clothes and Khadeen Carrington was his usual stoic self; quite a few fans shed tears themselves.
That said, the senior adrenaline could only be maintained for a few minutes. Seton Hall got off to a commanding 11-4 lead that had the crowd roaring, but Butler hit back well and the tempo slowed down tremendously for much of the first half.
The Pirates didn’t truly regain their mojo until just after the 10-minute mark in the second half after a pair of highlight reel buckets from Delgado and Carrington in a matter of seconds. Delgado (21 pts, 10 rebs) backed his defender in, took a no-look shot behind his head off the glass, and then stuck his tongue out at the crowd Michael Jordan style. Carrington (25 pts, 2 asts) would then sky for a massive slam and then sink a three-pointer to follow up — it was the loudest the Rock would get and the Pirates’ largest lead to that point — 57-48 — set the tone down the stretch.
Delgado and Carrington played like seniors, and it shouldn’t of came as a surprise. While the aforementioned plays were certainly the most notable, the two carried in the absence of Rodriguez and Sanogo much like the first meeting at Butler in which they and Desi combined for 76 of the Hall’s 90. Delgado looked unstoppable at times in the paint, and Carrington was fairly efficient despite shooting several highly difficult shots.
The offense was like night and day between the two halves. They likely put a few tired fans to sleep after the first 20 minutes, but shot 69-percent (16-23) from the floor in the second and were 10-of-12 from the line.
Seton Hall got it done with a lot on the line: they locked up the three-seed at the Big East Tournament. If they had lost, it would have meant they were playing DePaul on the event’s first day and a likely route into an 8-9 game at the NCAA tournament. This wasn’t your ordinary Senior Night.