Seton Hall's 20-year losing streak at Villanova received a 1-year contract extension at The Pavilion last night.
After jumping out to a 10-4 lead that was not relinquished until the 3:27 mark in the first half, Seton Hall (13-10, 4-6) fell apart by the seams, ultimately wilting 70-53 to Villanova (21-2, 9-1). A smooth Brian Oliver mid-range jumper that gave the Pirates a 25-21 lead preceded empty trips up the court on eight of Seton Hall's next nine possessions, gift-wrapping an 11-3 Villanova run into the half that was Chock full o'dunks. "I thought we had a real bad three-minute stretch at the end of the first half that kind of took a lot of wind out of our sails," Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard explained to Gary Cohen and Dave Popkin on AM 970 WNYM post-game.
Seton Hall would score via a Sterling Gibbs (16 pts, 3 asts) layup on their first possession of the second half, but that would be their only basket until Gibbs scored again just over six minutes later. Failing to right the ship, the visitors missed several opportunities on the tail-end of the break, and turned the ball over three times, continuing their slide. "We missed a couple free throws and a couple layups early in the half. If we make those, you keep it at eight, but we didn't, and we just got deflated a little bit," said Willard.
The 21-3 tide-turning run spanned 10:06 of game clock and featured just one Seton Hall basket. The Pirate implosion included mental errors, bad shot selection, and missed ‘bunnies' that left plenty of sure points off the board. "I thought we did a pretty good job for the first 18 minutes," said Willard. "Then we took two bad shots, Jaren [Sina] took a tough one, Brian [Oliver] took a tough one, and we lost our assignments on [James] Bell.
"We had a good thing going defensively for most of the first half, we knew we were going to give up a lot of layups, that was kind of the tradeoff. Give up a couple layups, and take away some threes, and that was helping us," diagrammed Willard, whose team gave up field goals at a 67% clip (23/34) from within the arc. "You dont want to give up layups, but against this team, such a good shooting team, the threes really get them going."
But Seton Hall's downfall was not entirely Villanova's offense putting on a clinic, which they did for large portions of the second half. The Pirate offense stuttered and shut down for a quarter of the game, spoonfeeding easy buckets to the ‘Cats on the break. Villanova led in points off of turnovers 8-0 at the half and finished 16-4 on the night.
"I think we might have been a little too passive maybe on the defensive end," admitted Kevin Willard. "But again, we had them in check there for most of the game [half?], our offense kind of hurt our defense a little bit, which happens a lot. If you're not getting some fast break points, if you're not getting some easy buckets, its tough."
Here's a look at the last nine Seton Hall possessions going into the half (13-1 VU run):
1 - Offensive foul on Gibbs (charge)
2 - Jaren Sina (4 pts) hits the side of the backboard from the near corner, Villanova scores in transition
3 - Fuquan Edwin (8 pts, 6 rebs, 3 asts) misses a three, Villanova scores on the break
4 - Sina makes 1/2 at the line
5 - Brian Oliver's (4 pts) hail mary pass to Edwin after a steal is intercepted, Edwin fouls player at half court in process
6 - Oliver misses tough contested three, James Bell hits a three in transition (SHU timeout)
7 - Sina misses a three, Bell tips to himself (ball hits baseline, blown call), saves it, JayVaughn Pinkston throws down a dunk on next possession
8 - Offensive foul on Brandon Mobley (2 pts)
9 - Shot clock violation with seconds left in half
To start the second half, Seton Hall would come up empty on nine-straight possessions after Gibbs scored on their first. The drought included three turnovers, an empty trip to the foul line, two missed shots from the paint by Patrik Auda (7 pts) and Gene Teague (10 pts, 6 rebs), and missed three-balls by Gibbs and Oliver. After the dust settled, Seton Hall was down 14, but their will was trailing by a greater margin.
"I really thought we got deflated and got a little frustrated," admitted Willard. "Steph [Manga] misses those two free throws, that's a turnover. Instead of being down 10, you're still down 12, they bang a three, its 15. Then we missed a couple layups, Pat [Auda] missed a layup - made a good post move, Eugene [Teague] made a couple post moves that he missed. You kind of bounce around a little bit, and that's what happens. On the road, you can't miss those, we didn't miss those the other night [versus Xavier], and we missed them tonight.
"We had a couple of looks early, and then I thought we had a run there, when it was a 12/13-point lead, where Sterling missed a three, Fu' [Fuquan Edwin] missed a tough layup. Again those are opportunities, you miss those opportunities, and next thing you know you're struggling. Tough place to win, you've got to play really well, and we didn't play overly well."
The crippling Villanova surge flipped the switch to their offense, which could no longer be held in check by Seton Hall. The Wildcats put on a pass-happy, floor-spacing clinic with the rock in the second half, outscoring Seton Hall 39-15 from the start of the 21-3 run (4:51 left in first half) until 5:45 remained in the second half (60-40 VU), when the rout was unofficially complete, handing Villanova boss Jay Wright his 400th win as a head coach, and Seton Hall another year without a win on the road against the Wildcats.
Fuquan Edwin - The Seton Hall captain, who is still nursing a bit of ankle tendinitis, scored 8 of the Pirates' first 10 points, then failed to score for the rest of the game. Edwin attempted just three field goals during Villanova's 39-15 mid-game domination.
Sterling Gibbs - He led the team in scoring by default. Gibbs wasn't really able to get the offense on a roll, though some of that blame is out of his hands. A reckless drive that was correctly ruled a charge started Seton Hall's drought. 5 of Sterling's 16 points were scored with the game already decided.
Gene Teague - The big fella was effective early, scoring six points over the first 6:16 of play, but would fail to score until he hit free four free throws midway through the second half. Teague was a victim of Villanova's superior mobility, especially from their five, Daniel Ochefu.
Patrik Auda - All seven of Pat's points were scored in the last ten minutes of the game.
Brandon Mobley - It was a night to forget for Mobley. Subbing in for Auda early, Mobley committed a foul on defense, then was called for a push-off with the ball in his hands, relegating him to the bench until he picked up another offensive foul on Seton Hall's second-to-last possession of the first half. Brandon picked up his fourth foul halfway through the second half.
Jaren Sina - Kevin Willard labeled Sina's freshman campaign as a success so far before the game, stating that he is having "as good of a freshman year as probably anyone in the league." Sina missed two crucial three-balls late in the first half.
Brian Oliver - Back from his 1-game suspension, Oliver came off the bench to hit two nice mid-range jumpers, but also made two crucial mistakes (ill-advised three, turnover) toward the end of the first half.
Stephane Manga - Steph's second-straight start in place of Brian Oliver was not as successful as his first. Manga made a crucial block early in the game when Villanova was on the break, but committed three turnovers (two empty trips to the line, one true turnover) and perhaps dumped the ball down low to Teague too late in the shot clock on Seton Hall's final first half possession.
Daniel Ochefu (10 pts, 10 rebs, 6 asts) - The mobile 6-11 center scored three times in emphatic fashion to kick-start Villanova's run. Willard: "He really really made guarding them tough. Just for the fact, they shoot the basketball so well, and Pinkston's a bear inside, you also add him to the fact that hes throwing good passes, doing some good stuff, it really makes it difficult to... you gotta pick your poison. And hes making it really tough to pick your poison."
JayVaughn Pinkston (19 pts, 6 rebs) - The former Bishop Loughlin all-time leading scorer, since passed by Khadeen Carrington, proved to be a deadly tandem in the paint for Villanova. Pinkston and Ochefu were too versatile for the trio of Mobley, Auda, and Teague.
James Bell (20 pts, 6 rebs) - So shifty, quick, and will always hurt you from deep (4-7 3pt), there were reasons Bell was the main man Seton Hall game planned against. The rest of Villanova shot 1-14 from deep.
Ryan Arcidiacono (6 pts, 6 asts) - He had an off shooting night, but the kid plays hard, encapsulated in his ball-saving leap that nearly took out the CSN-Philly team court side. "Arch" tallied six assists.