Leading by just three with 10 minutes to play, Seton Hall used a 16-3 game-changing run and 25 second half points from Big East Player of the Year candidate Isaiah Whitehead (33 pts, 5 asts) to turn a close game into an 80-66 rout of DePaul at Allstate Arena.
Whitehead, who shattered his previous career-high of 27 that was just set on Wednesday, was simply incredible over the final 20 minutes, whether it was saving a loose ball by crashing into the scorers table or nailing tough three after tough three, he put his teammates on his back, stemming each and every run that a pesky DePaul team made.
“When he gets going like that, we kind of all know to get out of his way and let him do it,” said Kevin Willard on 570 AM post-game.
“As talented and deep as this league is, I don’t know if there’s anyone that has done for their team what he’s done for us.”
Unlike their game against Butler, Seton Hall would spring out to a quick start offensively, scoring 9 points before the under-16, a feat which took over 11 minutes to do at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Sharing the ball well, the Pirates received a pleasant spark off their bench from Derrick Gordon as the defensive-minded guard knocked down consecutive three-balls right after the first media timeout to spearhead an 11-2 run.
In part due to hitting half of their first 10 three-point attempts, Seton Hall led by as many as 10 over the opening half until DePaul halved a 9-point gap to just four in the closing two minutes to trail 36-32 at the break.
The Blue Demons would edge even closer in the opening minutes of the second half, but it was better defensive intensity and Whitehead that turned the game around.
With his team leading 52-49, Whitehead hit consecutive three-pointers that coincided with the beginning of a 4-minute DePaul field goal drought and kicked off the game-changing swing that saw Seton Hall leading 71-55 after the dust settled with 6 minutes to play.
The Seton Hall onslaught also featured a chippy stretch of play in which Whitehead made a flagrant two on Aaron Simpson possible when he went flying into the scorers table to save a loose ball that ended up in Khadeen Carrington’s hands with nobody between him and the hoop.
Simpson then pushed Carrington from behind as he went up for a layup, sending Deen-o flying into the cheerleaders sitting on the baseline and Simpson into the locker room for an early shower.
It seemed clear that Whitehead dictating play coupled with the physical five-minute stretch of action engaged Seton Hall after they seemed to coast through a few stretches over the opening 35 minutes.
The win gives Seton Hall (22-8, 12-6) a program record six Big East road wins and some feel-good momentum heading into the conference tournament next Thursday night. The Hall finishes third in the Big East after being picked 7th before the season began.