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Whitehead's Return Sparks Pirates Over Xavier

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Seton Hall puts forth team effort to dispatch Musketeers in crucial contest

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Well, there you have it folks- Isaiah Whitehead's back, and he sure announced his presence in a big way for the Pirates, scoring 19 points...

Pat Driscoll: *PHREET* "Foul, hand-checking"

...umm ok... and also adding all of the little things as the Hall bounced the Musketeers 90-82. He dove on the floor for loose balls, found his teammates in creative and impressive ways, and also scored the basketball pretty well. I'm not sure that his return could have possibly gone much better after playing his first game since before Christmas.

Not to be overlooked were the four other Pirates in double figures. Sterling Gibbs was Sterling Gibbs, dropping 22 points on 12 shots, nailing all eight of his free throws....

Michael Stephens: *PHREET* "Foul, blocking, two shots"

...........ok, really?.... and also dishing out eight assists against just two turnovers. Brandon Mobley knocked down a few jumpers for 13 points as well as seven boards, while Angel Delgado fought through foul trouble in the second half to put in 10 and 7.

Desi Rodriguez also had 16 points off the Pirate bench, 11 of which in the second half when both Delgado and Whitehead were saddled with four fouls each. That kept the Pirates' head above the water...

Driscoll: *PHREET* "Technical foul, 31 white and 15 blue, making faces at each other"

..........................until the Hall could get their horses back in the game and make a final push in the last four minutes or so. Included in this run were a couple crucial steals and a lot of free throws- the team actually didn't hit a single field goal in the final 4:12 of the game, but they converted at the stripe to salt away the win.

Bottom line is that the Pirates returned to how they played against their non-conference competition and their early Big East slate. They shared the ball (14 assists on 28 baskets), defended the arc (Xavier went 1-for-19 from there) and made enough plays to win the game. And thank goodness for that because otherwise, this game would have been remembered for a very different reason.....

Stephens: *PHREET* "Foul, you were going to mention us in your article"

Oh, come on! I wasn't going to criticize....

Driscoll: "Yes you were- what else could you be about to mention?"

Ok, I promise not to rip into you guys. Deal?

Stephens: "Ok, I guess"

The reason this game would have been remembered in South Orange had the Pirates not prevailed was the officiating. A grand total of fifty fouls were called. Fifty. 50. Five-Zero. The game had no flow because some folks just couldn't decide on what was and what wasn't a foul... those lunks....

Driscoll/Stephens: *PHREEEET* "Hey now- that's a warning."

Oh, come ON. You guys were a huge part of the game, though.

Driscoll: *PHREET* "Technical foul, attempting to make a valid point*

But I didn't even say anythi....

Stephens: *PHREET* "Foul, failure to say something"

.............*sigh*

Driscoll: *PHREEEET* "Technical foul for sighing. That's two- you're gone, sir"

Well, fine then.

The Pirates face DePaul on the road next before returning home to face Marquette on Saturday, February 7th. Things appear to be finally looking up again for a now mostly-healthy Pirates squad. Keep it locked in to SOJ for all your Seton Hall Basketball needs.