At some point, it was going to bite Seton Hall. Some team would make it pay for being asleep at the start. Providence couldn’t do it. Neither could DePaul. But Xavier, one of the league’s biggest disappointments, was up to the task, ruining a perfect homestand for the Pirates.
Seton Hall couldn’t climb the mountain this time, couldn’t overcome another dreadful start, so the Pirates’ 10-game winning streak — their longest since 1993— came to an end early Saturday afternoon. The Musketeers built a 24-point first-half lead and held off 10th-ranked Seton Hall, 74-62, at the Prudential Center.
Making matters worse, starting point guard Quincy McKnight suffered what appeared to be a left knee injury late in the second half and had to be helped off the floor. Preseason All-American Myles Powell, meanwhile, continued to struggle from the field, scoring just nine points on 3-of-14 shooting and the Pirates were manhandled inside, out-rebounded 51-22 and outscored in the paint 36-22. Tyrique Jones owned Seton Hall, notching 19 points and 18 rebounds, and Naji Marshall tallied 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Seton Hall (16-5, 8-1 Big East) scored the game’s first basket, on a Myles Cale jumpshot, and everything went wrong from there. Its next points came 6:03 later, on a Sandro Mamukelashvili drive. By then, Xavier was ahead by 14, and it would get worse. The lead mushroomed to a stunning 30-6 after a Quentin Goodin layup. The building felt like a library. This wasn’t the team it had seen all year.
At one point, Seton Hall was 2-of-18 from the field while Xavier made 12 of its first 17 shot attempts and grabbed 18 of the game’s first 21 rebounds. It was utter domination. Willard used three timeouts, shuttled in different players and new lineups, but nothing worked until Rhoden sparked them.
The Pirates closed the half well, awakening over the final 7:23 of the stanza. Behind eight points from the sophomore, they went on a 17-5 run to get within striking distance, at 35-23, by the half. Considering Powell shot 1-of-7 from the field, Xavier made 51 percent of its attempts and outrebounded Seton Hall, 30-9, it wasn’t as lopsided as it could’ve been.
The halftime deficit was nothing new to Seton Hall, which has now trailed at intermission in 11 of its 21 games, rallying from double-digit deficits twice, against St. John’s and Butler, to victory. Rhoden’s 3-point play to start the second half quickly got Seton Hall within single digits, but Xavier — in particular Marshall and Jones — had an answer for every mini-run.
When the Pirates got within eight, Xavier responded with four straight points on consecutive Tyrique Jones baskets. When it got down to seven, the Musketeers again reeled off four in a row. Seton Hall was never able to get over the hump and Kyky Tandy iced with a 3-pointer to push the lead back to 14 with 4:29 left.