Pirates Hold Off Hoyas as Tempers Flare Late in Newark
NEWARK, NJ – Following the DePaul victory in Chicago on Monday evening, the Pirates knew they would be heading home to a raucous crowd. They knew what to expect as the Prudential Center, on a late Friday evening, was 10,481 full as the Pirate faithful welcomed back their star senior guard Myles Powell. Seton Hall knew they had their hands full with Patrick Ewing and a hungry Georgetown Hoyas squad. Coming into the contest having been taken down easily by last place Providence, and without sophomore guard Mac McClung, the Hoyas needed this victory more than ever. Head Coach Kevin Willard and his team had a tall task at hand, no pun intended.
Starting in a 7-2 deficit were the Pirates, who quickly had Myles hit a pair of triples to force a timeout by the Hoyas, just five minutes into the game. For those assuming Powell, you’ve thought wrong. Myles Cale hit five-of-six from distance in the contest, and two of those came within the first five minutes to rejuvenate the Prudential Center. To make matters worse for the visitors, the Delaware native sank in four-of-four in the first half by himself. Following the contest, head coach Kevin Willard compared the adjustment of Cale’s shot, to a golf swing. “when you have to change a little thing in your shot that sounds like it’s a simple thing, but it’s almost like changing your golf swing, it just takes time and patience.” The junior guard tallied his second double-double in as many games this evening.
As the half was seconds from concluding, sophomore center Ike Obiagu fell hard in the paint, that looked to be a clear shoulder injury. Rumblings included a separated shoulder, which would’ve ended his night easily. The Florida State transfer would make his way back into the game halfway into the second half to give a boost to the bench. We speak about the “tall task” for both teams, as senior center Ro Gill recorded a career-high 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds. The Jamaican native was also effective from the charity stripe, where he sank in five of a possible six. His counterpart for the Hoyas, Omer Yurtseven, finished with one of his worst performances, as per Ewing, with nine points, one assist, five boards, and converted a dismal three-of-14 from the field in 30 minutes on the court.
Secondary scoring became the talk of Newark tonight, as point guard Quincy McKnight, who was battling the flu, was four rebounds away from becoming the second Pirate to have recorded a triple-double. McKnight tallied a career-high 10 assists and sank home 14 points in 35 minutes of action.
The closer in Myles Powell would sit for seven minutes following a pair of early fouls in the contest, as he finished the first half with only five points. Secondary scoring repeatedly would take over, as expected, one would think. The Trenton, NJ native, in front of fellow New Jersian, Victor Cruz, would put the team on his back when the Hoyas narrowed the Pirates’ lead to as little as 11.
Following a Mac McClung block on Quincy McKnight at the under-four media timeout in the second half (3:19), words were exchanged between the two, where punches were thrown from the respective bench players. Benches were cleared, and a total of six were ejected, with no further disciplinary action, as per John Paquette of the Big East, post-game.
It’s expected for McKnight, Gill, Rhoden, Cale, and the supporting cast of the Pirates to pick up the load if Powell couldn’t and they did just that tonight. If that can remain consistent, with the impending return of Sandro Mamukelashvili around the corner, the Pirates may find their way into the second weekend of March Madness. Time will tell. The Pirates are on their way to Xavier for a midweek matchup on Wednesday, January 8 for an 8:30 p.m. opening tip from Cintas Center.