Seton Hall led from start to finish but were never able to build a comfortable lead in a 67-59 win over Bradley in the losers bracket of the Charleston Classic.
Desi Rodriguez led the Pirates in scoring with a career-high 18 plus 8 boards while Khadeen Carrington added 14, ten of which came in the second half as Isaiah Whitehead (5 pts, 2 asts) sat the final 20 minutes after taking a shoulder to the head while fighting a screen late in the first half.
Post-game, Kevin Willard told Gary Cohen and Dave Popkin on AM 970 that Whitehead suffered a minor concussion late in the Wagner game, that Isaiah will undergo concussion tests tonight and that he probably won’t play on Sunday in the 5th place game.
The Pirates sprang out to a 17-11 lead following two quick triples from freshman Veer Singh – the first points of his career – and never looked back despite not being able to put away an extremely young Bradley team and shooting just 14 of 26 from the line.
“We’re still not taking advantage of certain opportunities during the game, whether it be a fast break or a loose ball, we’re not rewarding ourselves sometimes,” Willard told Gary Cohen and Dave Popkin post-game on AM 970. “We have to do a better job of taking advantage of our opportunities and we have to concentrate on those opportunities.”
Willard was left to manage his team without Angel Delgado (7 pts, 9 rebs, 4 TOs) for the last ten minutes of the first half after the forward picked up two fouls and without Whitehead for the last 20 minutes.
Seton Hall’s lead fluctuated from ten to six points for nearly the entire second half, but the Braves were unable to spring a comeback while Khadeen Carrington and a banged up Derrick Gordon (9 pts) shouldered the point guard duties for the absent Whitehead.
Bradley cut their deficit to four with 6:28 to play and Seton Hall didn’t score a field goal for the final 5:12 of regulation but the Braves wouldn’t get closer than eight points until scoring on their final possession due to stout Pirate defense that held the Missouri Valley school to 39% from the field. Ismael Sanogo (6 pts, 6 rebs, 3 asts, 3 stls) was solid once again and did a ton of positive things besides score.
Seton Hall (3-1) is lucky to receive an RPI boost when they play Ole Miss (3-1) on Sunday after the Rebels were upset by George Mason in the opening round, moving the SEC school to the losers bracket.
Kevin Willard’s full statement on Isaiah Whitehead when asked if he’ll play Sunday:
“Probably not. He had a minor concussion after the Wagner game. It was a minor concussion, but it was a concussion so we had to go through the protocol. His first day playing was yesterday, that’s when he got cleared, so he didn’t practice Wednesday. Very light practice Wednesday for about 30 minutes … He got his bell rung pretty good, but when you’re coming off a concussion and you get your bell rung, you’ve got to go through the protocol. Our trainer and doctor said it was best to sit him for the half and to do the concussion tests after the game.”