Eyeing fifth place in the Big East, Seton Hall scored just one field goal over the final 15:30 of play and let up a late 12-1 run to give DePaul a 75-62 win and a regular season sweep of the Pirates. It's the Blue Demons' first regular season sweep of an opponent since 2006-07 when they beat South Florida twice.
Instead of picking up where they left off against Xavier on Saturday, Seton Hall came out of the gates sputtering on offense after some poor shot selection and a few early blocks from Rashaun Stimage (8 pts, 7 rebs, 3 blks) and company. Brandon Mobley (4 pts, 2 rebs) compounded the Hall's lukewarm start by picking up a technical foul for mouthing off to an official just prior to the first media timeout.
DePaul wasn't able to build off of their early 11-4 lead, but the Blue Demons scored at will within the arc early and often. Seton Hall played the first half in a zone before switching to man and Oliver Purnell's team was able to do a ton of damage after coming into the game with just the 329th-most percentage of total points coming from two-pointers. The Blue Demons were 25 of 38 (65.8%) on two-point field goals, outscoring Seton Hall by 20 in that respect. Perhaps a trade-off, the visitors held DePaul to 5 of 21 from the perimeter.
"We never got consecutive stops," reflected Kevin Willard post-game on 570 AM. "Every time we were on the doorstop of maybe getting on a run, they made a shot or got something inside."
While defending was a concern, it was offensive struggles that once again hurt the Hall.
Mobley started off the game with a few contested attempts, Khadeen Carrington (6 pts, 3 TOs) turned it over early, and Isaiah Whitehead (14 pts, 2 asts) was liberal with his jumper from beyond the arc (0 of 4) without looking to drive and distribute. Though they had just five turnovers at the half, Seton Hall coughed up the rock a few times early on, giving the Blue Demons easy buckets in transition which turned out to be foreshadowing of the second half.
"We took a lot of tough shots that took us out of it a little bit," said Willard of his team's shot selection. "Everybody. Top to bottom, we all took a couple tough shots. Turnovers, we hadn't been turning the ball over, we had some uncharacteristic turnovers. It gave them easy shots and on the road, that's something you just can't allow."
Mirroring their poor six assists on 18 made field goals in the first meeting at Prudential Center, Seton Hall would tally just five on 21 makes tonight.
"We have been getting good ball movement, their denials kind of hurt us a little bit, we fought it. That's two games in a row we fought it instead of looking inside and getting it inside and inside-out."
Mobley and Angel Delgado (5 pts, 7 rebs) would combine for just nine points on nine attempts. Not an excuse for their porous defense early in the game, Willard thinks the lack of offense from his guys hurt their will to defend.
"Our offense, we struggled so much it really affected our defense a little bit [...] It's tough to continue to keep that defensive energy when you don't have anything good going your way offensively."
Sterling Gibbs (21 pts, 5 rebs, 4 asts) registered four of Seton Hall's five total assists on 21 made field goals in the first half and kept his team in the game with a pair of big threes while freshman Desi Rodriguez (9 pts, 6 rebs) provided a spark off of the bench, scoring six of his points after halftime.
It looked like Seton Hall had turned the corner after Isaiah Whitehead assisted on a Rodriguez bucket to give the Pirates a 44-42 lead with 15:31 to play, but DePaul would allow just one field goal over the remainder of the game including just one point over the final 4:20. The Hall was in the bonus with just under ten to play and made 16 free throws during the 15-minute span, but their hosts would pull a familiar trick in the closing minutes.
Trailing by two points, Billy Garrett Jr. (20 pts, 4 asts, 4 rebs) and Durrell McDonald (7 pts, 4 asts) would drill a pair of three-pointers that sandwiched a Gibbs turnover to give DePaul an insurmountable 69-61 lead with two minutes to play. With Jaren Sina's hand in his face from NBA range, McDonald hit an arcing shot that bested Darrick Wood's dagger from the meeting at Prudential Center less than two weeks prior.
Seton Hall killer Jamee Crockett was deadly off the dribble and added 21 points that left Kevin Willard wishing he'll never have to see him again.
A big blow to Seton Hall, the loss drops the Pirates to 5-5 in Big East play and hands them their second "bad loss" on the season. The win snaps a three-game slide for DePaul, who improve to 6-5 in league play.