By John Fanta
SOUTH ORANGE — There was never a doubt of what the final result would be at Walsh Gymnasium on Tuesday night. The story, though, was the way Seton Hall beat down Saint Peter’s.
The Pirates showed why they are one of America’s most experienced teams – and why they cracked the AP Top 15 on Monday – rolling behind their senior trio in an 84-61 rout.
It was a ho-hum night for Angel Delgado, who tallied his 57th career double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Desi Rodriguez scored 17 points to go with six boards. Khadeen Carrington racked up 11 points and five assists.
You’ve read this before. You know this formula. Here’s what you don’t know though. These Pirates are aware of the No. 15 ranking and the seed projections.
“We’re thinking about March and April, keeping that in the back of our head,” said Carrington. “We’re trying to get a good resume. You want a good seed. As you’ve seen in the past, you can get knocked around too low.”
The Hall has been given no favors by the committee, getting stuck out West as a 6-seed against Gonzaga in 2016 despite winning the BIG EAST Championship. Last season, the Pirates were a 9-seed going up against Arkansas in Greenville.
“Every time we’ve been ranked in the past, I feel like we’ve let it slip away,” said Carrington. “I don’t think we let it get to our heads. We just got complacent. Our main focus is on protecting the ranking. It helps our cause.”
Delgado echoed his teammate.
“This team’s in it for one cause, for March,” said the Pirate big man, who is the NCAA’s active leader in rebounding. “We don’t have any other agenda than to win championships. There’s a bond with this group that’s really special.”
“We embraced it, and you have to,” said Willard of the distinction. “You respect it and understand how you got there and you don’t want to lose it.”
Knowing that Desi Rodriguez is typically driving to his left, why don’t teams make him go right?
“You can’t do it,” said Saint Peter’s head coach John Dunne. “That’s how good Rodriguez is right now. He’s so tough to defend on the drive, and his game’s risen to the next level.”
Seton Hall is now 29-8 when Rodriguez scores at least 15 points in a game.
“That’s the best game of the year. I always take this one personally.”
Angel Delgado was talking about what’s on deck for Seton Hall, when the 9-1 Pirates square off with 9-3 Rutgers at the RAC on Saturday. The annual Garden State Hardwood Classic tips at noon.