“You’ve got to almost play perfect”: Seton Hall’s drought at Villanova continues

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Philadelphia, Pa. — For a strong 30 minutes, it looked like Seton Hall was going to threaten to end their 16-game, 14-year drought at top-ranked Villanova, but there just wasn’t enough in the tank.

A key ingredient in just about any upset, particularly on the road, is made three-pointers. And it looked like the Hall (17-6, 6-4) had turned a corner with 9:44 to play when Myles Powell (17 pts) sank his second consecutive three to make it a 62-60 game.

But the late salvo from Seton Hall’s sniper — the Hall had only drilled a pair of threes to that point — would come just a fraction too late as the visitors were already operating on borrowed time after the gas light came on just a few minutes prior.

The game-changing moment came at the 13:21 mark of the second half when Khadeen Carrington (10 pts, 4 asts) picked up his fourth foul on a moving screen just a few feet from Kevin Willard and Seton Hall’s bench.

“The fourth foul on Khadeen really kind of changed the momentum of the game. It put him on the bench, even though I thought we did a pretty good job,” said Willard of the final ten minutes.

“I thought Eron [Gordon] and Jordan [Walker] did a good job and just kind of changed the whole momentum for us, because he [Khadeen] was doing a really good job on [Jalen] Brunson.”

“I thought Khadeen was doing a great job the whole game, so losing him, it gave those guys a lot of confidence,” remarked Angel Delgado (18 pts, 9 rebs). “The other team saw that and with Jalen having a little guy on him, he just went to work.”

The untimely whistle looked familiar, as Desi Rodriguez (20 pts, 7 rebs) had picked up his third foul with 6:19 in the first half after playing the better part of ten minutes with two; the foul trouble undoubtedly handicapped the Hall to a degree.

“I have no thoughts on anything like that, whatsoever,” Willard would add, when specifically asked about today’s officiating.

Up against what currently looks like the best team in the country in addition to their No. 1 ranking, the extra weight on Seton Hall’s shoulders was too much of a burden in front of 16,115 amped up Philadelphians. 

After scoring his team’s first seven points, do-everything forward Omari Spellman (26 pts, 11 rebs, 6-7 3pt) landed the long-range knock-out blow on a stumbling but barely conscious Seton Hall just prior to the final media timeout. 

“I’ll be honest with you: Four of his threes were contested. I mean, when a guy like that makes shots like that, you’re going to have a hard time beating them,” said Willard of Spellman. “You’ve got to give the kid credit — he got it going — but anytime a guy goes off like that, you’re going to have a long night.”

And while the final score more closely resembles a rout than a hard-fought Big East contest, there are positives that Seton Hall can take away from this one, and it starts with the strength of their opponent. 

For one, I spoke to a pair of Villanova season ticket holders who said this was the best their team has played all year; other neutrals outside of the Wildcats camp would agree.

When asked if there was a moral victory to take away from playing the top-ranked team on the road close for 30 minutes, Kevin Willard tipped his cap.

“They’re a good basketball team. On the road, you can’t let them make twelve threes. You let a home team make twelve threes, you’re going to be in for a long night,” said Willard.

“I think we could play better, I think we could do a couple of different things. But like I said, they’re a good basketball team, and on the road — you better play — you’ve got to almost play perfect when you play Villanova on the road, and I thought we did a really good job for a lot of the game.”

  • Joe J

    The rematch at the Rock will be interesting. Spellman will not play out of his mind, the Hall will shoot better from 3 and the refs will hopefully call a fair game (unlike this joke today).

    • 11yearplan

      Joe: Those were my thought as I left the arena today.

      Even if the refs don’t call a fair game, Nova won’t be able grab Delgado’s arm and hold him down as they did in the 2nd half of today’s contest.

  • > 14-year drought at top-ranked Villanova
    I thought they hadn’t won at Villanova since 1994 (so 24 years)?

  • slats33

    17 or so minutes of decent basketball. Stark contrast in coaching styles on display. Wright doing actual coaching while Willard spouts platitudes about ‘playing hard’during time outs (then nova gets an easy bucket because nobody picked up the streaker). We’ll see how good he is next year with the bench players he has now. They certainly have not made the most of the minutes they’ve played to date. They had a shot to win this one and get back into the top 25. Disappointing loss.

    • RonD

      Totally disagree. We’re you at the game? Yes, Nova got one inbound play to work. They are the #1 team in the country and they made some incredibly tough 3s at home. Willard had his guys attack them all game, not backing down. Did not double on D that would have created driving lanes and for the most part resisted leaving their feet on jump shots. Brunson did his thing, mostly in the 2nd half when Carrington was on the bench and he found himself matched up with Walker and simply posted him up 5 feet from the basket. We did a decent job of containing everyone else except Spellman who had a career game going 6/7 from 3. Add in the very disparate foul situation and not having Carrington for nearly 8 minutes in the second half and the result is what you saw: a tough loss on the road. Nobody is going to beat Nova in Philly.

    • Biff Roughneck

      If losing by 16 to the #1 team in their building is a “disappointing loss,” you’re either a troll or have to readjust your expectations.

      • slats33

        You’re a fool. What’s your excuse tonight?

  • SHU95

    Villanova played very good for 40 minutes, we played very good for about 30. Foul trouble, not much from the bench (which i think is more a function of them not getting enough minutes thoughout the season), and Omari Spellman going 6/7 from 3 did us in. Actually, this could have been alot worse considering they were firing on all cylinders today… i agree with Willard that it would have taken a perfect game to beat them today. I think it will be much tigher down the stretch at the rock next time…. Anyone know if Myles Cale is ok?? I don’t think he returned after the play with Divincenzo crashing into his ankle.
    Bigger picture… The game at Nova isnt one you circlw as a win, so looking ahead, i think they have two ‘Winnable’ sandwiched on either side of the trip to Xavier, so 4/5 over the next 2 weeks or so is possible; 3/5 a must!

    • Matty P

      Saw a tweet from Carino mentioning that he was out there in the layup lines after the half. Guessing the coaching staff decided it was safer to sit him out for the second half.

      • SHU95

        Thanks!

  • marco

    delgado seems to have trouble with big men who can shoot… it reminded me of a bit of kingsley? in the arkansas tourney game last season… they might be better off playing a zone than having delgado wander out towards the 3-point line because he didn’t really contest spellman’s shot that much… i’d like to see delgado play him tighter… delgado’s quick for a big man, just not that long… spellman had a lot of good looks today…

    • Matty P

      My biggest question is him not going out to guard his man out to the 3 point line more by design of the defense by the coaches or him being uncomfortable. It could easily be a coaching decision to say let your center take that 3 point shot bc more often then not he won’t make it. The other thing is it hurts the team to have Delgado extend that far from the basket since it takes away his rebounding ability.

  • PadrePirate

    Beating the #1 team in the nation, on their home court, with them shooting lights out from the arc, is a pretty tall order. I thought the Hall played reasonably well through 30 min, even with (questionable) foul trouble. The turning point was 60-62 and about 10 to play. We had just climbed back, then they shut the door over the next 2-3 min.
    Three takeaways:
    1. Angel is not built to cover athletic big men with range (like Derrickson, Spellman, Krampelj). One reason why he will not have a NBA career. Let Ish guard those guys.
    2. Our thin bench and poor FTs were among the factors which let this one slip away in the 2H. If our starters get into foul trouble or injured, this team (recall Ish’s injury vs Xavier), this team is sunk.
    3. Our boys were able to hang with them for 30 min. At the Rock, we might off the upset.

    • 2003Pirate

      and if they arent shooting unbelievable from 3PT. It was a good game considering

  • Andrew Herbst

    I think we did a nice job holding our own for the first 30 minutes or so. I would guess that Spielman won’t shoot as well next time we play them at the Rock. We need to hit our threes and improve at the line. If we do that, we will give Nova a game and maybe pull it out.

  • Joseph Attanasi

    Powell is a great talent and should be our top scorer the next two years, but he has got to learn to control his emotions on the court. Opposing players will get under your skin at times, but he can’t let it get the best of him. He’s already been thrown out of one game this year and he can’t afford to let it happen again.

  • 2003Pirate

    Nova scored 30 points in the final 9:44…its hard to beat anyone when they put up that kind of offense.

  • VinBick

    Nice article about the game at “Philly.com”. The bananas at NJ.com had the day off or traveling to Philly from Newark must be beyond their budget allotment; no coverage of the Hall playing the number one team in the nation.

  • Mike Walsh

    If not for Carrington and Rodriquez getting into foul trouble, the Pirates would have gone toe-to-toe to the end. I am very encouraged with their play and the younger guys seem to be gaining confidence day by day. I think that the team will be much more seasoned and ready come tournament time. GO PIRATES!!!

    • LBP

      The fouls did have a huge impact on this Game– When Deeno sat , Brunson “tooled” Gordon and Walker. When he came back in, Deeno played ,literally , no D–can not beat Nova without great Defense.

  • 2003Pirate

    next two games are must wins….

    • VinBick

      The Pirates can only afford to lose two of the final eight games, Nova and X. Six and two or bust! Other than that and a minimum of two wins in the BE Tournament will put the Hall in a really tough spot in the Big Dance.

      No excuse is acceptable.

    • PadrePirate

      Agree. I say we go 5-3 over our final eight (with L’s at Prov, Xav, and Nova), finishing 11-7 in BE. That should be enough for a 6 seed. Losing any more than that puts us into bubble range, requiring a strong BET.

      For now, Marquette will be pretty desperate coming into this game, with the added confidence that they routed us last time. Gtown played Xav very tough at home last week, just ran out of gas in OT. Neither game can be taken for granted as an easy win, but both are must wins for our club. To drop either would require some kind of outstanding win (like Xav on the road) to offset the bad loss.