NEWARK - No. 23 Seton Hall made easy work of Fairleigh Dickinson in their season-opener using by using a 20-3 first half run to bury their guests 90-68.
Desi Rodriguez led Seton Hall with 17 points in 21 minutes, most of which came early on, while Angel Delgado (10 pts, 10 rebs) just barely earned his expected double-double and freshman guard Myles Cale (12 pts, 4 rebs) showed versatility and instant offense off the bench.
Fairleigh Dickinson played without leading scorer and all-NEC guard Darian Anderson (stress fracture), but it probably would have been a no-contest even with him healthy.
Defensive energy sparked Seton Hall’s game-changing 20-3 run. Fairleigh Dickinson came out hot from the floor and led 12-7 at the first break, but a series of defensive stops including some full court pressure snowballed on the visitors into a near five-minute drought which drove a massive wedge between the two teams on the scoreboard. Seton Hall looked a bit out of sorts before the timely injection of urgency.
Khadeen Carrington (8 pts, 6 asts, 23 mins) was a cool customer at point guard. Kevin Willard said during the preseason that he is giving his lead guard the Isaiah Whitehead treatment, meaning a game plan designed with no natural point guard in mind. Carrington racked up six assists, a handful of which just came from high percentage makes rather than Carrington creating. Jordan Walker (7 pts, 2 asts) held his own off the bench before featuring late in the game while Eron Gordon (5 pts, 3 asts) looked to be playing at two-guard as the Hall (22:33 A/FGM) largely played point guard by committee.
The Hall owned the paint. Mike Holloway Jr (13 pts, 4 rebs) is a big boy, but he was no match for the Pirates’ toughness. They finished with a +17 rebounding margin and were nearly matching Fairleigh Dickinson’s total points with points in the paint with ten minutes left in the game.
Kevin Willard was able to keep his starters fresh for Sunday. Working with a 20+ margin for about 30 minutes, Willard was able to limit his entire starting core to under 25 minutes and rolled with a second team for long stretches that generally consisted of Jordan Walker-Eron Gordon-Myles Cale-Sandro Mamukelashvili-Mike Nzei; that bodes well for a quick turnaround as Monmouth comes to town on Sunday afternoon.