It looked like a shell-shocked Seton Hall team was going to get turned around by a 19-6 Providence second half run fueled by Ben Bentil, but 8 straight points from Desi Rodriguez including a drawn flagrant two on Bentil would seal the deal for a Pirate team that was better all night long.
The win gives Seton Hall (20-7, 10-5) their first 20-win regular season since 2003-04 and will move them to a projected 8- or 9-seed in the NCAA tournament.
Seton Hall had the better energy out of the gates on both ends of the court as Angel Delgado (14 pts, 10 rebs) scored their first two hoops and his teammates got after Kris Dunn (8 pts, 0 assists, 3 TOs), who turned the ball over twice early en route to a tough night; Dunn was clearly suffering from the stomach bug that sidelined him from practice earlier in the week. It was his first 0-assist night since January 26th, 2013.
A precursor of how the game would turn out, the Pirates snagged a pair of early offensive rebounds and largely kept the Friars off of the glass after they settled for a barrage of long jumpers — some of which went in and out — in the first half and in the game.
Seton Hall was held back by 11 first half turnovers and allowed Providence the chance to bring the game within a point with 30 seconds left in the half but Derrick Gordon did Derrick Gordon things and drew a charge on Dunn to set up a seemingly routine Isaiah Whitehead triple at the buzzer, turning the game on its head.
The pivotal swing would turn into a game-changing 15-0 run that was coupled with a 7:21 Providence field goal drought, setting up a commanding 42-25 Seton Hall lead after the dust settled at the under-16.
The Friars would answer with a 6-0 run of their own and a Ben Bentil triple — their first of the game after missing 15 straight — but Angel Delgado and Isaiah Whitehead would have none of it.
The duo combined to reel off 11 points in 90 seconds and bring the Prudential Center crowd to their feet for umpteenth time as the home team held a 52-32 lead with 12 to play.
But it wasn’t over.
Bentil went on absolute rampage, scoring nine points of 90 seconds to bring his team within 7 with as many minutes to play, effectively shell-shocking the Pirates and their fans.
Like at the end of first half, Isaiah Whitehead was again the offensive catalyst to end a Providence run.
The floor general set up Ish Sanogo for a big dunk to end Providence’s run, which primed Desi Rodriguez’ personal 8-0 run coming out of the under-four that started with Bentil’s flagrant two.
More post-game coverage from Newark coming.