After leading for a majority of the first half, Seton Hall fell to 6th ranked Villanova 70-53, at the Pavilion on Friday night. The "road warriors" failed to secure their 4th Big East contest away from home, despite managing to hold the lead for a 15 minute stretch in the first half. Led by a couple 3-pointers from Fuquan Edwin and strong play by Eugene Teague (10pts/6reb) in the opening minutes, Seton Hall looked poised to give another home favorite a run for their money.
Three straight Daniel Ochefu (10pts/10reb/6ast) dunks, swayed the momentum as the Wildcats found themselves leading by 6 points before Kevin Willard was forced to call timeout with 1:46 remaining before halftime. Unable to halt Villanova's 13-1 run in the half's closing minutes, the Pirates suddenly found themselves trailing by 8-points heading into the break.
Seton Hall began the game with the usual spark we've come to expect on the road throughout conference play, but was unable to maintain the crispness to their play for the entire 20 minutes of the opening half. They were active and aggressive on the defense end and extremely efficient with their offensive possessions early on. After an early James Bell layup, the Pirates found themselves in control of the game until Villanova regained the lead following the first under-four timeout. A sloppy final four minutes featured four turnovers coupled with the Pirates failure to make a field goal, sending Kevin Willard to the lockeroom looking for answers.
Unfortunately, the answer wouldn't be found as the Wildcats jumped all over the Pirates en route to an 8-2 run that essentially dug a ditch for Seton Hall to begin the second half. While the Pirates tried to duplicate the intensity their defense opened with, Villanova scored at will with high percentage shots, which in turn presented numerous opportunities from long range. As Seton Hall attempted to double Ochefu, the Wildcats inside-out game worked to perfection as Ryan Arcidiacono, JayVaughn Pinkston and Dylan Ennis all sank long jumpers.
The 6th ranked team in the nation put on an absolute clinic as they ran the Pirates out of the gym midway through the second half. A series of highlight reel finishes gave Villanova their largest lead of 21-points with 4 minutes remaining that put any idea of a comeback firmly out of discussion. The road warriors showed promise early this evening, but the Wildcats once again proved why they're on track for a possible one-seed come March. They're legit and if you let up in the slightest, they're going to run you out of the gym. Congrats to Jay Wright on his 400th career victory.
Seton Hall returns home to host Marquette as the Golden Eagles will be looking for the season sweep against the Pirates on Tuesday evening.