NEWARK — For the second game in a row and for the nth time this season, Seton Hall notched a win in a crucial grind-it-out 62-59 slug fest with Georgetown that vastly increases the Hall’s NCAA odds.
3 points from the 6:41 to 1:53 mark in the second half.
2 points during a six-minute span mid-way through the second half.
But Seton Hall still won, thanks to a 13-5 overall “run” to finish, including the game’s last five point amidst a myriad of Georgetown mistakes.
Like DePaul just a few days ago, the result is ultimately all that matters at this point in the season.
“We were 3-6 and people were giving us our last rites and this team has found a way and grinded and fought to be 9-8. They did the same thing tonight,” said Kevin Willard of what this game came down to.
“We didn’t have our best energy, our best A-game, but I think you have to give Georgetown a lot of credit for that … I’m proud of how we’ve fought all season.”
Who would have thought a game in which the Pirates shoot 3-of-18 from long range, see just two guys hit double figures, and sustain such demoralizing droughts in the second half would end in victory, let alone taste so sweet.
“Coming back from being 3-6 and now we’re 9-8, I think that’s real big. I don’t think many teams can do that, especially in a big conference like this,” said lone scholarship senior Madison Jones after a strong defensive game.
“It wasn’t pretty at all, but no matter what we gutted it out and we found a way.”
While Jones and most of his teammates weren’t able to crack Georgetown’s defense, it was Desi Rodriguez (27 pts) and Angel Delgado (12 pts, 13 rebs) who did, the latter of which set a trio of milestones.
Delgado set a new Big East single-season record for rebounds (passing Luke Harangody) in the first half and then grabbed his 1,000th board heading into the final under-four timeout, which also pushed him past Patrick Ewing into sixth on the all-time Big East rebounding list, leaving Georgetown’s John Thompson III with nothing but high praise.
“If you look at all the great players in this league, that’s amazing,” he said of the accomplishment. “He’s relentless. He just keeps coming and coming and coming. His work ethic is just unbelievable … He knows that he’s going to go out there and dominate the game.”
While Delgado didn’t dominate tonight, he helped hold the team together in the paint against a physical Georgetown team that didn’t want to go away.
As a result, Seton Hall is now 9-8 in conference play after sitting at 3-6 and up against the ropes, as I wrote at the time, when they traveled to Georgetown in the first meeting.
“It just shows how we preserve through bad, bad times,” said Jones of the turnaround. “We were down 3-6, our season could have went the opposite way and went downhill from there. We could have doubted ourselves, but I think that’s the main thing we didn’t do, we didn’t doubt ourselves. We stayed together.”
While the Hall was up against it at that moment, they were also in a tough spot when they trailed 54-49 at the under-eight tonight.
An effective but far-from-flashy 13-5 close to the game changed that.
While quite a few mistakes from the Hoyas aided the Hall’s effort, a seventh Big East game which came down to a final possession could not go against the Pirates.
Just ask Angel Delgado.
“I was telling them, ‘I don’t want to be a bubble team. If you guys want to lose this game and go home, just tell me,’” Delgado recalled of what he said to his teammates at the under-eight.
“But that’s not what is going to happen — I told them we need to pick it up.”
And pick it up they did, right on their way to — likely — their second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance for the first time since the early 90s.