Euphoria: Seton Hall dismantles No. 5 Xavier 90-81 on Senior Day

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NEWARK – Seton Hall used two first half runs, a career-high 27 points and 12 boards from Desi Rodriguez, and stifling defense to build a 19-point halftime lead that was never truly threatened en route to an unbelievable 90-81 win over No. 5 Xavier on Senior Day at Prudential Center that surely seals their first NCAA bid in a decade.

Rodriguez was joined by Angel Delgado (17 pts, 8 rebs) , who played one of his best offensive games in a Pirate uniform and Isaiah Whitehead (22 pts, 5 asts), as the trio combined for 66 of Seton Hall’s 90 points.

In what looked like carryover from a tremendous Senior Day ceremony for Derrick Gordon (8 pts, 6 rebs) before the game, Seton Hall scored the first nine points of the game before Xavier hit a pair of threes and then went 1-3-1 zone to bog down their high-tempo-minded hosts and leech some momentum back.

Leading 26-21 at the under-eight, it seemed like we were in for the conventional back-and-forth game that was expected pre-game, but Seton Hall switched it into a gear that we perhaps haven’t seen in many years.

Displaying some rare three-quarter court pressure that doubled down on incredible Ish Sanogo defense on Trevon Bluiett, Seton Hall turned an outstanding first half defensive performance into a 19-5 run to close the half and hold the Musketeers to their lowest first half scoring total of the season; Xavier scored just three points over the closing 7:40.

Leading 45-26 coming out of the break, Xavier came out with a surge and appeared to be on their way back into the game by mounting an 8-3 run with Isaiah Whitehead glued to the bench due to a bloody knee injury, but again it was Desi Rodriguez and Angel Delgado who led the Seton Hall offensive charge.

The forward duo scored Seton Hall’s first 13 points of the second half including countless highlight reel slams from Desi to hold a better but not good enough Xavier at bay and provide an 18-point advantage with 12 to play that was never truly threatened.

Now locked into third in the conference and with their largest regular season win total since the 1992-93 season, Seton Hall (21-7, 11-5) looks likely to crack the Top-25 tomorrow and should slide up a couple seeds in projected NCAA tournament brackets. The Pirates head to Indianapolis for a clash with bubble-ridden Butler on Wednesday.

  • VinBick

    Well, I was the doubting Thomas this morning. So glad I was proven wrong by the hustling Pirates who had far more heart and desire than the X-men. The effort displayed by the Hall won the day!

    No doubt, the Pirates go dancing now. With a couple more wins, a good seed, too.

    Best wishes to the coaches and players for a tremendous season with lots more success down the road!

  • Louie Dee

    I think I deserve some credit. Lol
    I’ve been saying for months that we don’t lose with the vintage jersey!

    • Fishjam

      Louie, whats our record with the throwbacks?

      • Fishjam

        just found it…4-0. Wichita St, GTown, StJohns & Xavier. No more home games….can they wear them in BET?

        • WilponsStinkLessNow

          They better! And they look great too. Why were they wearing grays at home against P-Town? Makes no sense.

  • PadrePirate

    Fun game. Totally did not expect this monster run! First half was very impressive.

    My only complaint would be our inability to best that high trap that X kept showing until that pesky 55 fouled out. Time after time we fell into it, which generated a lot of bad turnovers. Even out of two TO’s KW did not seem to have an answer. If we ever meet these guys again in the BET, we’re going to have to study film and work on that.

    I’ll add a second: IW had a real bad stretch in the second half where he made a couple of errors and then tried to make up for it by multiple forced plays like the behind the back turn over which led to a 5 point swing.

    • WilponsStinkLessNow

      Once they realized that they needed to break through the first line of defense with their dribble drive they were ok. But I thought the best way to beat a 1-3-1 is to put a man on the free throw line in from of the defender and let him catch the ball and face the basket where he should have open teammates on both side of the paint. But yeah it gave them fits. Not many teams use it these days. It definitely bogged them down at first.

    • LBP

      Good observation PadrePirate- I don’t think they saw it before and needed time to figure it out. I thought Sanogo was a Beast all day and his D got them a few run-outs which helped the most.

  • Fishjam

    Tremendous effort by the crew today. They are an emotional group and the Senior Day festivities and huge crowd definitely gave them a boost. DG has made a huge impact on this program in a short time and you can tell the kids respect him.

    They came out and punched Xavier in the mouth right from the tip. The defensive intensity was there all game starting with DG frustrating Sumner. He totally bottled him up, drew his signature offensive foul and took the dangerous player right out of the game. Ish was all over the place deflecting balls, getting in people’s grill and causing havoc. Their defense led to a lot of transition points which was key because of the effort required to score in the halfcourt vs the zone.

    Desi has shown that he can be a dominant player in stretches this season but often will drift mentally at some point and start to struggle. Not today. He played a complete game and gave great effort in both halves. His attacking the rim and finishing was obvious but he also played great defense on Blueit and crashed the boards all day long. Desi’s best game of his career. Loved when Fox showed Willard in the huddle tell Desi to stop talking to the refs and concentrate on moving along the baseline because he couldn’t be stopped.

    I always say, Angel has to score early to give him confidence and he did that today. They found him down low a few times and he got some early offensive rebounds. Farr was able to score also but most importantly, Angel stayed out of foul trouble and ran the floor hard all game.

    IW played well early but went through a long stretch where he struggled offensively against the 1-3-1. He missed tough shots, had some turnovers and took some hard spills. He had bad body language and was frustrated but Willard and Sha did a great job of talking to him on the bench and getting his mind right. He responded by picking up the defensive effort which fired him up and then he started draining shots to finish with another impressive line.

    This team finally got the big win that should give them some national respect. Hopefully they handle it well, close the season strong and do some damage in both tournaments because when they play like they did today they can beat anyone in the country. Willard deserves a ton of credit for bringing DG in and changing the identity of this team from a bunch of individuals to a tight-knit, hard-nosed defensive minded TEAM.

    • Matty P

      It’s good to see that Willard told Desi to stop talking with the refs. He had a min or 2 in the middle of the game where he was busy talking to the ref instead of focusing on the game and his man. Agreed that Farr was able to score against Delgado, but I wonder how much of the scoring is due to the fact that Delgado can’t be as aggressive since he’s so important to the team and needs to stay out of foul trouble. It’s too bad this team doesn’t have one more guy on the roster that can cover a couple more mins for him so he can be more aggressive.

      • Fishjam

        Yes, Angel is passive on D to try to stay out of foul trouble as he is indispensable. Refs call so many fouls on in the post I don’t blame him for not going for blocks. He just tries to get good position and keep his hands straight up. That works when the other players come help and swipe at the ball.

        • WilponsStinkLessNow

          He did a great job today staying out of foul trouble and I thought on a couple of the fouls they called against him he was straight up and playing d correctly. Willard did a good job too getting him out at times to protect against the fouls.

    • LBP

      Great summary Fishjam-Rock was rocking-I wrote before Game that The Hall did not match -up with Xavier ( a Team I greatly respect) and I was wrong. Xavier did not match-up well with The Hall

  • Fishjam

    Love that quote by KW…

    Willard on Pat Lyons: “He could have gotten rid of me last year .. I told him: ‘You stick w/ me, I promise you were going to win next year’”

    Shows you they did think about letting him go last year. Was a very tough decision as most of the fan base wanted a change after the debacle last year. I was on the fence. If we could have gotten a Hurley I would have been OK with a change but a change just for change sake wasn’t the right move as it would have likely broken up some of the core.
    Lyons did the right thing by letting Willard have a chance with this great recruiting class
    To Willard’s credit, he seems to have changed a lot as a coach this year and it has led to a more disciplined team. They still are wild at times and show their youth but there is no doubt that Willard is in charge and needs to be respected. That was not the case last year. These kids definitely respect KW and Sha and take their coaching to heart.

  • Matty P

    For the people watching the game at home did the crowd seem louder than usual with the game being sold out? Being at the game it was very impressive to see so many people and almost all of them it appeared being SHU fans. I would love to see the rock get consistently packed like that for years to come.

    • Hallbuster

      I go to most home games. Was loudest it has ever been. By far

      • hallstorm

        Ditto Hallbuster. This is their biggest crowd that I’ve seen in the entire time they’ve been at The Rock-and I go to most home games also.

  • Hallbuster

    Rock was loudest I’ve ever heard it. Can’t wait to see the nay sayers and pessimist try to take this one away from us. Number 5 team in country who just beat the number 1 team who been there for weeks and it wasn’t even close. Awesome. Kevin Willard era going to resemble PJ? He won me over and I was negative on him especially last year. Now I’m ready to give him a new contract! Go hall!

    • WilponsStinkLessNow

      The “narrative” tomorrow will surely be that Xavier was hungover from their emotional win against Nova and came out flat, but that’s fine by me. Everyone should keep underestimating the Pirates, at their own peril.

      • Hallbuster

        Well said

  • WilponsStinkLessNow

    The Musketeers walked the plank! Aargh.

  • Andrew Herbst

    What an awesome win today! I’m so proud of our boys. We came out right the getgo and attacked Xavier right away. Gordon did an awesome job of d as he’s done all season. He has provided such a boost on and off the court. His impact has gone such along way and goes far beyond the box score. He does so many of the little things needed to win. His experience will be so valuable come BE Tourney as well as the Big Dance. The crowd deserves a lot of credit as well. I was one of the many fans cheering us on and it was incredible atmosphere. Such a fun game to be at from start to finish. I can’t wait until the rankings come out tomorrow. We should finally crack top 25. Let’s keep this momentum going against Butler on Wednesday night. GO PIRATES!