by Josh Adams
In the end, Myles Powell took his ball and went home with a win.
The All-American scored 29 points (including his 2,00th career point) for #18 Seton Hall as they responded from a thirteen point deficit at the half against the St. John’s Red Storm in Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon and closed out their 8th straight win thanks to some late game heroics from Powell and a charged up halftime speech from Willard that got the Pirates attention and refocused them coming out of the locker room in the second half.
The first half was an exhibition in how a Mike Anderson led team can make even a veteran squad like Seton Hall look like a JV squad with relentless defense that caused the Pirates to committ 15 turnovers in the first half. Anderson’s Red Storm had an upset in the making as LJ Figueroa stole the ball as time wained down in the first half and converted a layup at the buzzer to give St. John’s a 43-30 lead at the half.
Whatever was said at halftime which involved “A lot of yelling.”, according to Powell about Willard’s halftime demeanor got through to the Pirates as they quickly erased the Red Storm lead. It was a nip and tuck affair in a fabulous second half that saw Anderson’s team show it’s resilience in not throwing in the towel once Seton Hall took the lead back at the 5:58 mark in the second half. The turning part of the entire game happened when Powell converted on a three point play that also fouled out Figueroa. While the margin was still razor thin and St. John’s was able to keep within a basket with one minute left, Powell hit this layup to put the game out of reach and give Seton Hall a hard fought win against their rival on their home floor.
After the game, Powell was asked about an incident that was caught on tape where he displayed the basketball in which he scored his 2,000th career point with Seton Hall and seemed to be accosted by a St. John’s staffer wanting the ball back. When asked in the postgame press conference about the incident (below)
Willard whispered “no” to Powell and Powell said the issue was resolved and “I just wanted my 2,000 career point ball, that’s it.”
Not lost on Powell’s record setting day was another solid performance by Quincy McKnight with 20 points and 5 assists and Romaro Gill once again making a case for the Big East Most Improved Player Award with a solid 14 points, 13 rebounds and 6 blocks in the winning effort.
With Butler losing it’s second straight on Saturday afternoon to DePaul, the Big East is starting to look like Seton Hall’s to lose. With the Garden hosting the Big East Tournament as well as the East Regionals of the NCAA Tournament, this could be the start of someting very special in this venerable building. It could be more than a ball that Powell gets to take home, it could also include a net and a trip to the Final Four at the end of March.