By John Fanta
NEWARK — In the BIG EAST, where over half the league is scoring at least 80 points per game, those who can work defense into the puzzle are the top teams in the conference. While Georgetown led by as many as 10 in the first half in Newark, when Seton Hall’s defense awoke, the Pirates never looked back.
The Hall held the Hoyas scoreless for the final five minutes of the first half, cruising to a 74-61 win in front of a sellout crowd at The Rock.
“Defensively, we picked up our energy,” said Kevin Willard, whose team bounced back from a double-digit loss at Marquette on Tuesday. “The second group was great midway through the first half. I was impressed with the way they came back after a real sluggish week.”
Trailing 21-11 nearly seven minutes in, the Pirates scored six straight that started up a 33-10 outburst to close the first half. The main reason for that? Desi Rodriguez and Myles Powell. The duo combined for 22 on the run, and finished with 19 apiece in the victory.
“When Myles plays with this enthusiasm, it’s infectious,” said Willard. “He played with great energy and ran the floor much better than he has on the road. When he plays this way, we are a much better basketball team.”
Powell’s become a consistent offensive threat, and he’s following his senior teammate in Rodriguez. The Bronx native scored at least 15 points for the 10th time in the Pirates’ last 13 contests.
The scorer that Rodriguez has become isn’t just about getting buckets, but his efficiency. After a 7-for-11 performance from the field, including a perfect 3-for-3 from three-point territory, In conference play, Rodriguez is shooting 46% from the field and 39% from three with 19 points per contest. That’s All-BIG EAST First Team type play.
As for the battle inside, The Hall’s Angel Delgado got the best of Georgetown’s Jessie Govan in a match-up of the BIG EAST’s top two rebounders. Delgado notched his NCAA-leading 64th career double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds, while Govan finished with 11 points and five boards.
A guy who knows a thing or two about post play shared his thoughts on the nation’s active leader in rebounding.
“He’s a work horse,” said Patrick Ewing when asked about Delgado. “He makes the other guy work for everything. He’s smart. He knows how to use his body. I tip my hat off to him.”
The road only gets tougher for #13 Seton Hall, as the Pirates face their most challenging week of the conference slate to date this week. SHU visits #25 Creighton on Wednesday before hosting #10 Xavier on Saturday. The Hoyas welcome #1 Villanova Wednesday and St. John’s Saturday as they return to D.C. after splitting with the Johnnies and the Pirates this week.
Follow @NCAAHoopsDigest and @John_Fanta all season for coverage of the BIG EAST.