Seton Hall gets revenge with tough 75-65 win on road at Creighton

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Three weeks after getting thoroughly out-played by Creighton on their home floor, Seton Hall used a 21-5 run around the halftime break and 22 points plus 6 assists from Isaiah Whitehead to notch a feel-good 75-65 win in Omaha.

Whitehead was helped by an effective one-two interior punch of Ish Sanogo (12 pts, 8 rebs) and Angel Delgado (13 pts, 12 rebs) while Maurice Watson Jr. was held to 14 points (6-16 fg) and 6 assists by a Seton Hall defense that was tuned to stop him.

Seton Hall wasted no time getting into their game plan by involving Sanogo and Delgado heavily over the opening minutes. Their work on the glass plus points off turnovers from deflections was a foreshadowing of what was to come.

The tempo started to pick up midway through the half during a flurry of substitutions, but textbook road basketball from Kevin Willard’s team swung the tempo in Seton Hall’s favor.

The Pirates outrebounded Creighton 24-11 over the first 20 minutes, scored 22 points in the paint and tallied 9 off Jay turnovers; it wasn’t necessarily lethal half court offense, but it was effective.

Creighton’s offense was disrupted early and often due to the play of Sanogo along with Derrick Gordon (4 pts, 3 rebs) and Mike Nzei (2 pts, 3 rebs) off the bench. They did a great job of moving their feet quickly to close off drives into the paint and forcing outside shots from Maurice Watson Jr.

“Ismael Sanogo played phenomenal. So did Mike Nzei. Both Ish and Mike did a heck of a job,” said Willard of his guys defending Watson.

“Going back and watching the first game, I asked myself why do we keep going over [the screens on Watson], but I said you have to pick your poison with this team. Even if he made a couple [jumpers], the most demoralizing thing for us was the layups they got [in Newark] … I was like, we’re not letting that happen on the road. We’re just going to make them shoot. At one point I just told the guys ‘stand in the lane.’”

As a result of executing their defensive game plan successfully, Seton Hall closed the first half on a 17-6 run to lead 40-27.

After sitting for much of the first half due to foul trouble, Creighton center Geoffrey Groselle injured his left ankle early in the second period, further allowing Seton Hall to dominate the interior in his absence.

Led by Isaiah Whitehead scoring the Hall’s first five points of the second half, Seton Hall would speed out of the locker room to the tune of a 14-5 run, which came on the tail-end of a 7-0 flurry to close the first half.

The Pirates held a 12-0 advantage on the offensive glass late in the second half and would finish +19 and +13 in rebounding and second chance points, respectively.

“I thought we rebounded the ball great. That was the main thing for us, let’s go in there and let’s kill the glass,” said Willard.

Seton Hall constructed their biggest lead at 56-34, but Creighton would narrow the gap down to 10 just after the under-eight media timeout as they held the Pirates to a single field goal over a nearly five-minute span.

But like he did for most of the second half, Isaiah Whitehead had the answer with an NBA-range triple to give a sputtering offense a kick-start and his team a 13-point lead heading into the final TV timeout.

“Isaiah Whitehead proved that he is a big-time player. That’s what big-time players do,” said Willard of his point guard’s second half shot-making.

Whitehead was helped by Desi Rodriguez (14 pts, 10 rebs) and the two combined on quite a few plays in the second half.

“I thought that was the best game Desi Rodriguez has played in his career … I thought he set the tone in transition defense, he did a great job of sprinting back.”

The long-range bomb from Whitehead was just the shot Seton Hall needed to hold their hosts at bay over the closing minutes. Creighton trailed by double digits for the final 21:04 of the game.

Seton Hall improves to 15-6 (5-4) and faces a three-game home stand against Marquette, Georgetown and Butler. Creighton falls to 15-7 (5-4).

  • Andrew Herbst

    What an awesome win tonight! Best performance of the season from start to finish. Whitehead was in total control and he shot so efficiently. He looked like a pro and had some great looks inside. Delgado was a beast on the boards. He looked like he did last year. Great games by Desi and Sanago as well. I loved how our defense played. We attacked the boards the whole game and never let up. We look awesome right now and we need to keep this up. We have a very winnable game against Marquette on Wednesday. Let’s go out there and play like we did tonight and go to 16-6 and 6-4 in BE play. GO PIRATES!

  • PadrePirate

    Great job. Very proud of our guys. This was a big game, and they stepped up. Quieted the hometown crowd from the start. KW doesn’t get much praise, but looks like he had a game plan and the boys executed. Pre-game comments focused on keeping Watson out of the lane and crashing the boards. Both done well. Helped having Groselle out for most of the game. We’re not always going to get such hot shooting from IW, but still good all around effort. GO PIRATES!

    • LBP

      Agree PadrePirate- Willard deserves his due. Had the Team prepared and a sound Game plan.Kudos.
      Although this was the best a Hall Team has played in years, I do not believe this is the best this Team can play. A lot of talented ,fast athletes- Huge Win.
      Chris -thanks

  • SHULaw05

    Fantastic win on the road! This group played tough defense from start to finish. This was an intimidating venue to play at with a fairly large crowd. Players seemed very focused and never seemed to get rattled by anything throughout. All of our guys contributed both on offense and defense. Our rebounding was fierce and Delgado had his way on the glass all night. It was clear that Willard had quite an effective strategy for this game and our players executed to perfection. Congrats to our players! Go Pirates!

  • PadrePirate

    Should be noted that CU was averaging over 80 pts a game…until they got the lock down from Pirate Blue!!!

    • 74.5 ppg in Big East play

      • PadrePirate

        I read 82.5 ppg on the Pirates website. I guess it was for the season.

  • hallstorm

    This is the best I’ve seen them play this entire season-including the Providence game. I think they were able to take Creighton out of there comfort zone and forced them to alter their game plan. Really nicely done.

    Definitely like seeing them play with adversity too-having a bunch of guys in foul trouble is likely going to be the case against some other teams with big inside players who produce.

    But the most important aspect is I think they’ve put aside each of their individual egos for the good of the team. The last couple of games have been evidence of that in that each guy is looking for the best shot and not jacking up shots the first time they touch the ball.

    • hallstorm

      *their comfort zone…

  • Hallbuster

    Props to Willard. Had this team very ready to play and outcoached a great coach. I’ve been very critical of him when he does poorly so I give him props when he put together a good game plan of shutting down their inside game completely unlike last time. It didn’t hurt that we shot better than normal from three and they shot worse but our defense had something to do with the later. This team is Dr Jekyll and me Hyde and lately we been getting more of the Dr Jekyll which is a great sign. Whitehead and desi awesome games. While early this game could have been the decider of who, us or creighton, makes the tournament

  • Hallbuster

    Ps- what a beast sonogo is. Tough as nails, scrappy, and intimidated by no one. Been many many many years since we had a player like this

    • ThePirateFan

      He and Nzei could stand to add some weight, but hell yeah! Seeing guys buy in as role players is so refreshing. Killing it within their roles is even better.

      I hate even using the term role players because it connotes a lesser value, but it really isn’t. The things they do translate to points just the same.

  • Dan

    My favorite part of the game was during the injury time out for Groselle. The camera scanned our five starters. The weren’t celebrating. They weren’t looking at the crowd. They were quietly talking to each other and they all had an intense and serious look in their eyes. Right after that, they went on the run that pushed it over 20. That type of intensity bodes well if they can maintain it.

  • VinBick

    What a fun game to watch! Great control of the boards. Greatest game of IW’s career at the Hall. His shot selection was so important to this win. Also, Desi, quietly had a tremendous game. Willard said, ““I thought that was the best game Desi Rodriguez has played in his career … I thought he set the tone in transition defense, he did a great job of sprinting back.” He, too, hit a long three that was a dagger in the heart of Creighten.

    Willard gets lots of credit for the success of this team. Old time fans have to remember that the student body wanted to run PJ out of South Orange just before his teams took off to achieve great accomplishments. Are we seeing history repeat itself? Love the thought of the Pirates as a national power under Willard for years to come. Go Pirates!

    • PadrePirate

      I’m not so sure yet about KW. True, he deserves credit where credit is due, but I also think he has more talent and cohesive personalities this year than ever before.

      A nice win can smooth over a lot of ruffled feathers, but I remember thinking at different moments this season, “Man, this guy can’t coach”. There have been some mistakes and low moments.

      I think and hope that he’s progressing with the team, but I’m not ready to roll out the red carpet for a contract extension until we go deep into the BE tourney, Dance in march, and land some solid recruits to keep the momentum.

      • ThePirateFan

        One positive sign is this team’s vastly improved in-bound defense. We’ve seen 3-4 pts/game gifted away in years past. It happens rarely this season. I doubt the staff has changed the way they coach it, it’s probably just better execution. Maybe KW took some misdirected criticism in other avenues as well.

    • Biff Roughneck

      “Are we seeing history repeat itself? Love the thought of the Pirates as a national power under Willard for years to come. Go Pirates!”
      Whoa, whoa, whoa, SLOW DOWN.

      • VinBick

        Just wishin and hopin for such a scenario, Biff. Frankly, Willard has a bad track record when his team starts to show signs of success. Just a year ago, he lost the team and the conflict destroyed any opportunity to produce positive results down the stretch of the regular season and beyond.

        Seeing some real signs of achievement make some of us hopeful. Those who do not attend games at the Rock are missing something really special. The Pirate potential is exciting to experience first hand.
        Go Pirates!

  • Fishjam

    Very pleased to see Willard and the team make the necessary adjustments needed to slow Creighton as it shows the ability to learn from mistakes, get better and it shows the players can execute a gameplan. I said pregame they had to play off Watson to stop his penetration and dare him to shoot. They did exactly that brilliantly all game, undercutting the picks. It ruined the flow of Creighton’s offense and Watson missed all 4 of his 3’s including several early jump shots. They played tight D on Ziering, not letting him hurt them from 3 and Angel, Ish & Nzei were excellent defending Groselle & Hanson and cleaning up the boards. Caught a bit of a break with Groselle only playing 8 minutes due to foul trouble and injury but great job nonetheless.

    Offensively, did a fine job of getting the ball in the paint and just broke Creighton’s spirit by constantly getting offensive rebounds (17!) and 2nd chance points. Whitehead was brilliant finding teammates and hitting big shots. We went a long period in the 2nd half where our offense stagnated and we started settling for too many contested jumpers. Luckily, IW & Desi hit big shots in key moments just when Creighton would start to make a run. Pirates really need to stay focused and continue to get the ball in the paint as too many times this year in 2nd halfs we get a little lazy and settle for lower percentage shots. Thankfully tonight IW & Desi shot over 50% and we got so many 2nd chances so it didn’t hurt us but those shots won’t always fall.

    Willard was right about Desi, he did a lot of little things that he doesn’t always do on a consistent basis. He was in the game defensively, hustling, helping out, challenging shots and grabbing rebounds. I didn’t see any of his mental lapses this game.

    I thought it was one of Carrington’s worst games of the year on both ends. He was a step late on defense on a few occassions, shot poorly from the field and from the line.He even got blocked on that breakaway layup which he usually dunks. I thought he wasn’t himself vs StJohns also. Maybe his legs aren’t 100%….hope its just a mid-year slump and he’ll be back to himself.

    Another guy who may have hit a wall a bit is Gordon. After his great game @ Providence, he’s been struggling offensively. With his all-out effort all season and the physicality of the Prov & Nova games back to back, he’s scuffling a bit. He missed all 8 of his shots and is shooting only 24% (8 for 33) from the field in his last 4. Willard seems to have picked up on this as he played his least number of minutes all season last night.

  • Fishjam

    Hope they don’t take Marquette for granted. They have some good players just a bit inconsistent because they are a young team. They are playing well, fresh off a win over Butler and they also won at Providence earlier. They will be looking for payback just like we were vs Creighton. Although we won by 20, the game was tied halfway through the 2nd half before our defense just took over and we killed them at the Free Throw Line (24 of 28!!). Was a great team effort the first time, all 5 starters in double figures….Ish frustrated Ellenson….will be harder to do it a 2nd time, Ellenson just torched Butler for 32.

    • iratepirate

      Seems like the best road to the Tourney means beating Marq, Depaul, and StJ. Do that and a loss to Creighton would be their worst loss in conference. Really not bad. Though I think we’ve got a good shot against Butler and GTown as well.

      • Matty P

        Based on everyone thinking they need to at least get to 20 wins that would mean winning 5 of the remaining 8 games (5 games at home). Like you mentioned if they go and beat those 3 and can split with Georgetown and Butler that would give them their 5 wins and put them in good position in the BE tournament to try and pick up an additional win. If they drop any of those games they need to get a win against either Xavier or Providence which luckily are both home games.

        • iratepirate

          Beating Xavier would truly be a feather in the cap. It would be a top-10 win, and would pretty much solidify their status as a tourney team.

          • Matty P

            Agreed, that would be a heck of a win considering their RPI is currently 5 and their kenpom is 11. If this team can figure out how to get into the cracks of the Xavier 1-3-1 zone (Desi had a big game thanks to finding some of these holes) and rebound like they did against Creighton then they should have a shot at beating them at home. Plus as we’ve seen this team feeds off the energy of a home crowd which should be big for a 12:30 game on a Sunday against a top 10 opponent.

            This remaining schedule is exciting since the team can definitely come out and win any of these 8 games if they come out focused.

  • Matty P

    After Georgetown losing tonight it puts SHU in prime position with a win tomorrow night to go into the game this weekend tied with Georgetown for 4th place in the BE. Two wins this week would go a long way in helping SHU separate from the bottom half of the BE and position itself for a deeper BE tournament run by playing later in the tournament.

  • PadrePirate

    Mixed feelings about Providence’s weak showing tonight vs. Depaul. If Depaul hangs on, P also drops to 6-4, which is good for us. But our Providence win was one of our strongest wins. If P gets beat by a weak team, our win looks less spectacular.

    • Matty P

      Unfortunately for Providence Bentil got hurt and wasn’t able to play a good portion of the game. It really shows the drop off after him and Dunn on this Providence team and the difficulty they’re going to have scoring if either gets in foul trouble or has an off night.

    • HallBall10

      Providence losing isn’t good for us… Providence’s computer #s slide out of top 25 and now we are 0-3 against top 25 teams. Hopefully, they can finish in the top 25 computer rankings while also losing to us again.

      On the bright side, maybe depaul can stay better than 150+ rpi and we’ll only finish with 9 games against rpi150+instead of an embarrassing 11.