Late comeback falls short as Seton Hall win streak ends in 85-78 loss at Butler

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Trailing by as many as 17 points late in the first half, Seton Hall was put on the injured shoulders of Isaiah Whitehead and was brought within two with 90 seconds to play before four straight points from Roosevelt Jones gave Butler the breathing room they needed for a hard-fought 85-78 win.

Seton Hall got off to an uneasy start offensively as Kellen Dunham (22 pts) heated up early en route to 16 first half points and things really went downhill when Isaiah Whitehead (27 pts, 6 rebs, 3 asts) headed to the locker room with a shoulder injury after coming down hard on a layup attempt.

Butler was able to construct an early 21-7 lead and hold Seton Hall to under 30-percent for most of the first half as Dunham featured by hitting a handful of smooth jumpers that stemmed any Pirate momentum; only Desi Rodriguez (12 pts, 4 rebs) and Ish Sanogo (9 pts, 8 rebs) scored for the Hall during the first 11 minutes.

Trailing 43-28 at the half and in need of inspiration, Seton Hall was able to get it in the form of a 10-0 run that coincided with holding Butler to a 6:30 field goal drought after they scored on their first possession out of the half.

The run saw Whitehead get right back in the swing of things and brought Seton Hall within five as the two schools went back and forth through the under-eight with the Pirates trailing 59-53.

Whitehead would score six more points in a few minute span to inch his team within four, but Roosevelt Jones continued to play the role of Pirate killer by sinking a few big-time buckets of his own.

The pair of lead guards continued to go at each other by scoring a slew of tough buckets as Whitehead would reach a new career-high of 27 along the way, surpassing his old best of 26 set against Butler earlier this year.

The Hall would score 12 points over the final 3:30 and 10 came from Whitehead but Butler has to be handed credit for answering time after time following their early second half drought. Whether it was Jones, a late Dunham basket from a baseline out of bounds play with 7 on the shot clock or Kelan Martin’s first basket in a long stretch, the Bulldogs kept answering.

Seton Hall (21-8, 11-6) has now had a four-game winning streak snapped twice by Butler, the only school they’ve lost to over the last month-plus. Seton Hall and Kevin Willard are now both 1-6 against Butler all-time. The Pirates will wrap up Big East play with a momentum sustaining game against DePaul on Saturday.

Three thoughts

Isaiah Whitehead is a gamer. He played in a little big of a fog after coming down really hard on his left shoulder in the first half, but he was filled with confidence and swagger over the closing 15 minutes; First-team All-Big East for sure.

Derrick Gordon and Angel Delgado disappointed. Gordon again played one of his worst games of the season against Butler. He didn’t see much time down the stretch and for good reason. Delgado did have 8 points and 6 boards, but he could have had a lot more. He wasn’t involved enough at all over the first 10 minutes and wasn’t exactly able to sync up with Whitehead when the offense did get going in the second half (and Butler’s forwards were in foul trouble).

Anyone tired of Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham? Jones was unstoppable going to the rim late in the game while Dunham was hitting nothing but net in the first half. Seton Hall’s sophomores are now 0-4 against the pair.

  • Louie Dee

    I’ve said it several times, Willard needs to stop putting Butler on a pedestal and beat them already.

    He glorifies Butler whenever he’s asked a question about them. If your coach is pessimistic about playing a team how do you expect the players to be, better yet perform.

    • Biff Roughneck

      Butler is better. Really. Has nothing to do with Willard.

      • Joe J

        Providence swept butler this season. butler swept seton hall and seton hall swept providence who’s better? Who knows it’s all about match-ups. Butler is a bad matchup for seton hall with Dunham, jones and now Martin who destroy them. Also, Delgado and Gordon played terrible against butler in both games

  • Andrew Herbst

    Tough loss tonight, but it was a valiant effort. We fought back and didn’t give up. We just couldn’t get a stop and Dunham and Jones were too much to handle. We can’t get this one loss get us down. Butler has a great home court. We just have to learn from this loss, pick up our defensive intensity and bounce back against DePaul on Saturday. We are still in great shape and are a solid 3 seed in BE.

  • LBP

    We fought- too tuff to dig out of 15plus onthe road-Delgado had a tough night

  • PadrePirate

    Tough loss, but we kind of expected as much. Couldn’t watch the game.

    Noticed a couple of comments on the officiating. Was it really that bad?

    • LBP

      It was more timely than over-all bad-

  • PadrePirate

    Both Prov and Butler fought hard to extend their bubbleness tonight and won. The only uptake on this L could be that 4 BE teams make the Dance.

    If we don’t thump DePaul this weekend, we could be right back on the bubble with them.

  • PadrePirate

    What happens to our RPI? Remember Chris saying that the hit would not be that bad, but a sweep by BU sure gives them rights to jump over us in the seeding.

    • Fishjam

      Our RPI is relatively unchanged by the loss….we are 32-33. Didn’t really hurt us since it was on the road to a similarly ranked team though it did cost us an opprtunity to improve our seeding a bit. The game that can hurt us is coming up vs DePaul. A loss drops our RPI about 15 points and puts major pressure on us to win the first round game in the BET.

      Who we play in the BET is still totally up in the air….could be any of 4 teams. Although it seems if all of the favorites win on Saturday, it will be Creighton. So in a Doomsday scenario if we lose @ DePaul and then loss 1st round to Creighton, RPI Forecaster drops all the way down to #52.

      I can’t even think about that….we have to take care of business @ DePaul then make a run in the BET.

    • Chris McManus

      Seton Hall should still be a seed or two ahead of Butler following last night (8 vs. 9 or 10). Their RPI was in the high 50s going into the game and they were the last team in the field.

  • SHULaw05

    Tough night indeed. Pirates showed a heck of a lot of fight in the 2nd half. Never gave up and kept punching back down the stretch. Get our team straight to Chicago so they can get comfortable for the next game. So much at stake, time to turn it up to the next level. Believe in these players, they will get it done.

  • Fishjam

    Did anyone else see the season flash before your eyes when Isaiah fell on his shoulder?

    • Chris McManus

      Yes. Scary moment. His shoulder really got stuck when he hit the court, hopefully nothing swells up post-game

      • Biff Roughneck

        Don’t be too sure that he won’t be hurting over the next week. A separated shoulder can be a real problem.

  • Fishjam

    We didn’t do the 3 things I thought we had to in order to win:
    1) Play solid defense – Defense in the 1st half was poor. Allowed far too many open 3s to Dunham and Butler shot well over 50%. Turned it up in the 2nd half but the hole was too deep.

    2) Get Angel & Desi involved early – They tried early….Desi took it to the basket and got blocked on the 1st posession and Angel missed a couple of makeable, close-range shots. After that we didn’t go to them much in the 1st half as we settled for long jumpers too often. Butler started doubling Angel every time he touched the ball and he started to get frustrated and had a subpar performance. His play is directly tied to Seton Hall winning moreso than any other player. IW, Desi & Dino have all played well in games we’ve lost but whenever Angel plays well, we win every time.

    3) Stop Roosevelt in Crunch Time – Once again, the 12th year Senior killed us. Every single time he does it and it’s always on drives to the basket. The backbreaker tonight was the drive straight at Ish who played it OK but I felt it was Angel who didn’t come over to help soon enough who was to blame. Had he been in position he could have blocked the shot. Jones also hit all of his free throws in crunch time after starting 4 of 9. I really felt they should have double-teamed him or just sagged off him daring him to shoot. Guy absolutely KILLS us!

    • Chris McManus

      Good analysis. Nothing to disagree with.

      Although Donny Marshall was going berserk on the officials when Whitehead was called for his 4th foul near halfcourt on a reach in on Jones, it was pretty obvious he was trying to put Jones into the 1-1 situation if he wasn’t getting the steal. They did that 3 times and Jones converted all 3 times.

    • Valentino

      Agree with Fishjam as well. I too felt that Angel should helped sooner. He did not exactly leave his feet to contest the shot. Ish, Nzei or IW would have rejected the shot. Very concerned with Angel’s defense on quicker perimeter big men who can shoot the 3 like Bentil and last night Andrew Chrabacsz.

    • LBP

      Nice job Fishjam and your above review of late D lapses( altho Refs were hard for Guys to read late)
      I propose all SHU Fans go to Roosevelt Jones’ Graduation this Spring-not necessarily to wish him well but to assure he is finally leaving Butler.

  • Chris McManus
    • jfp1992

      Great stats. If they could’ve stopped them a couple of times down the stretch, they would’ve stolen that game. Which would’ve been remarkable.

      • Fishjam

        Thats a great point jfp. I was standing 4 feet in front of the TV for the final 10 minutes (playing defense against the TV) imploring them to get stops. They did go through a long stretch where Butler couldn’t score to get back in the game but in the last 3-4 minutes, it seemed they couldn’t buy a stop.

        There were 4 defensive plays I recall down the stretch that killed me:

        1) Ish picked up a foul on Martin with 6 seconds on the Shot Clock
        2) IW’s reach-in foul on Jones around half-court, why?
        3) the Jones drive on Ish that Angel should have swatted
        4) the inbound pass to Dunham for the layup…this one drove me nuts. Whitehead was on the inbounder and jumped to his right to deny the pass to Dunham for a 3 but Dunham kept circling around and Dino couldn’t catch up

  • Joe Schmoe

    So DePaul is now a must win…as is a healthy bet showing.

  • shufaninva

    We just couldn’t get a stop in the final ten minutes. It was crazy. We have been a team over the entire Willard era that would go on huge scoring droughts, but not this year. It was so odd to see us not able to get a stop. I kind of hope we get another shot at them at MSG next week. I think these soph’s won’t lose 5 to these guys. Of course Saturday is huge now. IF we have really started to turn a corner as a program, then we should easily win Saturday. I know they always play teams tough at home, but we are now in “desperate” mode, real or imagined…but definitely real. That said, a double digit win is what should be expected.
    The sky isn’t falling, as it really is just one game. However, the fact is the sky falls a lot faster for some teams, and Seton Hall on the bubble is going to have a low ceiling until Selection Sunday.

    • Biff Roughneck

      You don’t want to play them again in MSG, it will be an early exit.

  • jfp1992

    There is a God. Looks like we won’t see Butler at MSG, unless we both make it to the finals.

    • VinBick

      The third place Hall cannot be caught now with the 11 wins, and all those behind us in the standings only able to reach the 10 win level. Who is the likely opponent in the Thursday night game at 9:30 PM game?

      • jfp1992

        At this point looks like Creighton. They have Villanova this weekend, likely a loss. Providence and Butler have winnable games against St. John’s and Marquette respectively.

        • VinBick

          Thanks, jfp. So it is imperative for the Hall to win Saturday and next Thursday night for seeding purposes in the Big Dance. A win in the BE Tournament beyond Thursday’s 3 vs 6 game will be helpful, too.

  • fouline

    We can’t win them all. And it felt like Butler wanted it more. Also in our furious attempted comeback, it seemed we had no plan. It was just furious and unfocused. Where was the coach?

  • Joe Schmoe

    In other news…herb pope robbed a bank in PA…

    • Fishjam

      That’s bad news and I hope Herb can get his life together. He has had it tough with that heart condition that robbed a lot of his potential. But Herb you can’t rob banks when you are 6’9″….makes you easy to identify.

      He was part of that team that collapsed at the end of the year and missed the tourney. 19-9 and 8-8 in BE and finish with losses at Rutgers and then by 30 at DePaul who was 2-15 in Big East. For those that don’t remember that’s why so many of us are leery of Saturday’s game. Bad memories.

      Billy Garrett is another guy who feels like he’s in his 8th year. He always plays well against us. Their 2 bigs, Stimage and Henry played well in the 2nd half also so Angel needs to get it going again. Their best player lately though has been Eli Cain. Cain and Garret are a very big backcourt and give us problems driving to the hoop. Need DG to step up and slow them down a bit.