by Josh Adams
Newark, NJ– Where do you start with a game like tonight’s heavyweight battle between #25 Creighton and #23 Seton Hall?
Two teams, two different halves and a game that had 9,824 people on a frigid night in Newark get as loud as any college fieldhouse in the nation as the home Pirates erased a 13 point halftime deficit and defeated the visiting Blue Jays by the score of 90-84.
The first half showed Creighton at it’s finest. Greg McDermott’s Creighton team was precise in finding the open man and Martin Krampelj took full advantage of catching the Pirates napping with making backdoor cuts that led to easy dunks. Seton Hall just could not stop the Blue Jays from scoring in the first stanza as the visiting team hung 53 points to the Pirates 42 as the packed house in the Prudential Center murmured nervously as the teams left the floor.
The second half story was the adjustments that the Seton Hall team and Coach Kevin Willard made at halftime. The Blue Jays were not allowed into the paint without a Seton Hall player contesting the shot. As Seton Hall chipped away at the Creighton lead, the crowd’s enthusiasm started to build and the team clearly fed off of that energy.
The game quickly turned into Angel Delgado time. The All-American candidate started gobbling up rebounds and dominated the interior on his way to his 60th double-double of his career. It wasn’t over though. With three minutes left Delgado fouled out with the Pirates down by one. The Pirates could’ve panicked but didn’t thanks to Delgado’s inspiring speech to his teammates. “You guys worked for this, let’s go. We’re not losing this.” said Delgado, “Do what you have to do to win this game.”. Inspired, his team left the huddle and took the lead for good.
“This league is no joke.”, said Delgado after the game. “It’s like a pit bull chasing you, if you sleep, they eat you.”
Desi Rodriguez led the Pirates with 23 points. When I asked Rodriguez after the game if he noticed the momentum turning against Creighton he said, “I saw it in their faces. My guy Khyri Thomas, we were talking all game. We were battling the whole game. When we went on that run he shrugged and said we (Creighton) are in for a long night.”
Delgado and Khadeen Carrington had 18 points while Myles Powell had 17 in the winning effort. Ismael Sanogo came off of a team-imposed suspension and had quality minutes while Michael Nzei had 14 rebounds starting for Sanogo.
Creighton (10-3, 0-1) was led by Krampelj who had a career high 23 points. Marcus Foster added 14 points for the Blue Jays. “Their big four (Carrington, Rodriguez, Delgado and Sanogo) are really, really good.” said McDermott after the game, “I’m ready for some of those guys to graduate.”
Seton Hall hosts their local rivals, the St. John’s Red Storm on Sunday. Tonight’s game was a perfect example of how competitive the Big East is going to be this season. You have to defend your home turf and the Pirates did just that. As teams like Villanova and Xavier loom in the future, a gutty win against a well coached, veteran Creighton team without Delgado in the final stretch should serve notice to everyone that this Seton Hall squad has some of the biggest dogs in the fight for the Big East title.