It looked like Seton Hall (11-2) was in for trouble after Marquette (10-3) clawed back to take the lead at the half after trailing by 11 early, but the Pirates clamped down on defense and were by far the better team after the break en route to an impressive 83-63 win in Milwaukee.
Desi Rodriguez scored a career-high 19 points while Angel Delgado (11 pts, 11 rebs) posted his sixth double-double in a row in a truly all-around game for the Pirates. Isaiah Whitehead scored 16 to go along with 7 assists while Khadeen Carrington had 17 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Last but not least, Ish Sanogo (10 pts, 8 rebs) displayed textbook defense and held Henry Ellenson to 13 points (3-14) and 14 rebounds.
Seton Hall played with a swagger over the opening eight minutes during which they led by as many as 11 at 17-6 before building a 22-12 lead at the under-12.
When the Pirates get up and down the floor, that’s usually when their attack ticks. Kevin Willard’s team was able to do just that early on, with Marquette coach Steve Wojociechowski demanding his team to make the Hall play half court offense during a first half media break.
Marquette fed the post several possessions in a row early in the game, a pattern which turned out to be an integral scoring source for the hosts. The Golden Eagles scored 22 of their first 24 points in the paint and 32 of 40 in the first half.
The turning point of the first period came when Isaiah Whitehead picked up his second foul just prior to the under-12. While Seton Hall’s offense did fair with Whitehead on the bench, it was the slight disrupting of their flow coupled with Marquette’s exploitation of the post that temporarily flipped the script.
The hosts used a 13-4 run to get right back into the game before taking their first lead of the night at 39-38 on a Wally Ellenson (3 pts) put-back with 76 seconds left before break.
With their interior defense needing to be addressed at the half, Angel Delgado and Ismael Sanogo were able to seal the leaks inside while Derrick Gordon (7 pts, 6 rebs) made all of the hustle plays to turn game in the Pirates’ favor. Marquette was just 4 of their first 17 shots from the field in the second half.
“I was happy with the position we were in at half time,” Willard told Gary Cohen and Dave Popkin on 570 AM post-game. “I just said ‘Guys, make them work … don’t give any of the guards easy stuff, just make them work.’”
Even though Marquette scored a ton of points in the paint over the first 20 minutes, it turned out to be a somewhat deceiving stat: bigs Henry Ellenson and Luke Fischer were held to 9-of-25 from the field on the night.
“I like that match-up for us,” said Willard of Sanogo on Ellenson. “I thought he made it difficult for Ellenson to get clean looks, especially early in the game … Ish had an unbelievable second half.”
Despite 20 turnovers, quite a few of which were unforced, Seton Hall pushed the momentum in their favor for good following one of several careless mistakes. Following a turnover, Isaiah Whitehead took a strong charge just outside of the protective arc to head into the under-12 with the ball up seven at 55-48.
“He dominates a game – and he really does – if you watch what he does out there,” Willard gushed about his point guard. “He’s good, he’s really good. I know his shooting numbers [aren’t great], he also has the ball in his hands a lot so he takes a lot of tired shots, which he has to work on. I think we’re starting to watch the evolution of a kid that can be really, really special.”
Desi Rodriguez would pick up his fourth foul shortly after Whitehead’s drawn charge, but Seton Hall didn’t miss a beat.
Instead of being on the verge of surrendering another lead, the Pirates went on an 18-4 run to lead 73-54 coming out of the under-four, effectively icing the game.
In addition to his defense, Derrick Gordon nailed a triple to put Seton Hall up 11 with just under eight to play when Marquette was still very much in reach.
A bunch of people on Twitter have already declared Ish Sanogo as their Most Valuable Pirate, but I honestly can’t choose just one player. Playing a “complete game” is very cliche, but every guy did their part. Carrington had 10 rebounds, Delgado posted another double-double, Sanogo and Gordon played stout defense, and Whitehead was commanding as a floor general.
Now 11-2 (1-0) and winners of six-straight games, Seton Hall hosts DePaul at 11am on Saturday with revenge on their minds after getting swept by the Blue Demons last season.