NEWARK, N.J. — Faced with several glancing blows against a high-powered Creighton team, there were plenty of times when a senior-laden Seton Hall team could have folded — but they didn’t, and punched back harder.
How about when Creighton finished the first half on a roll, scoring a series of lay-ups including a Marcus Foster floater at the buzzer?
Or when the Jays extended their lead to 13 — the largest of the game for either team — just seconds into the second half after scoring 53 in the first?
Surely when All-American candidate Angel Delgado fouled out with 3:08 to play and his team trailing 84-83? Seton Hall would score the next seven, holding Creighton scoreless the rest of the way.
“No, I don’t think it was a game we would have won,” said Khadeen Carrington (18p, 3a) of whether this team would have won the same game the last two years.
“We would have won two years ago, maybe last year, maybe, 50-percent [chance]. This is a huge step for us right now.”
For a team that has not historically responded overly well to so many ups and downs in the course of a game, they rolled with the punches tonight and looked confident and composed with their backs up against the wall, even with a raucous Jersey crowd losing their minds just feet from the court.
“In the first half, those guys punched us in the face right away,” said Angel Delgado, who had 18p, 14r, 5a on the night.
“It’s our home and we’ve got to protect our home, so in the second half, [we said] every four minutes we’ve got to play harder than them.”
The key to plugging the defensive leaks and steering the Pirate ship in the right direction?
“At halftime everybody was positive. We knew what the game was, we knew he kept giving them easy buckets, easy transition points,” said a calm and collected Carrington post-game.
“That was the game right there in the first half; they got ten points off of little mistakes, like loose balls, second chance points, we knew once we took that away that was the game right there.”
Seton Hall’s win contained the most emotion I’ve seen in a home game since perhaps two seasons ago when they beat Xavier and everyone started to realize it meant the first NCAA tournament in years.
It felt like an NCAA tournament game, but was somehow just — just — a Big East-opener.
“We’re coming for everybody’s head right now,” said Delgado, defiantly.
“We’ve worked too much for this, we’re going crazy in every game. I’m telling you right now, we’re not giving up. It could be 1 second [left], down by 10, we’re not giving up, not even for a second … In this league, you sleep, they eat you. It’s like a pit-bull trying to chase you every day. This league is no joke man.
“It was crazy, you know it’s Big East time,” continued Delgado, speaking about the atmosphere at Prudential Center.
“I got so happy, I was ready for this. Big East play man, it’s life-changing.”