Many college basketball teams would be happy with one or two of their players averaging double digits in points. But the Seton Hall University Pirates have four players scoring in double figures through their first seven games this season.
With the help of four starters scoring in double figures, the Pirates overpowered the Columbia University Lions 95-71 Thursday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. In his first career start, freshman guard Myles Powell led the way for the Pirates with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting, with all seven of his makes on the night coming from a three-point land.
“It’s such a difference having Myles on the floor,” said Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard after the game. “His work ethic and ability to make outside shots helps the team and the rest of the guys out so much.”
Powell was given the start after senior guard Madison Jones injured himself in Seton Hall’s most recent game and had not practiced this week, Willard said. Whether Powell will continue to start will depend upon whom the Pirates are playing, Willard said.
Along with Powell’s strong offensive performance, junior forward Angel Delgado posted a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Registering his third double-double of the season, Delgado is averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds per game this season.
Led by Delgado’s strong performance around the rim, the Pirates used their height advantage to out-rebound the Lions 37-23 and outscore Columbia 46-20 down low. By dominating in the rebounding department, the Pirates accumulated 17 second chance points in the game.
Because of Seton Hall’s size advantage over Columbia, the game plan from the start was to get Delgado the ball, Willard said.
“I think the guys were happy being able to pass Delgado the ball without seeing another big guy around him,” said Willard.
Junior guard and Brooklyn native Khadeen Carrington, the team’s leading scorer this season with 21 points per game, finished with 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting while junior forward and Bronx native Desi Rodriguez also finished with 17 points.
Both Carrington and Delgado earned Pre-season All-Big East second team honors. So far, both players are living up to the expectations this season.
Willard believes that the team’s balanced offensive attack this season will continue to be a strength going forward. In six of their first seven games, the Pirates have had at least three players score in double figures.
Even though Carrington is the team’s leading scorer, both Powell and Rodriguez have led the team in scoring in three games combined this season.
“I think our balanced scoring is one of the reasons we have been so good offensively so far this season,” said Willard. “We’re not a one-trick pony and the ball distribution has been really good.”
With its four best scorers leading the way, Seton Hall shot an impressive 59 percent from the field and 41 percent from three in the contest.
Along with Carrington and Delgado averaging double figures this season, Rodriguez is averaging 15 points per game while Thursday night’s leading scorer Powell is averaging 14 points per game.
Willard also said after the game that two days of strong practice this week played a role in the team’s strong play against Columbia.
Defensively, the Pirates forced Columbia into 15 turnovers, resulting in 23 points off those turnovers. Seton Hall held the Lions to only 36 percent shooting from the field in the second half, after allowing Columbia to shoot 50 percent both from the field and from three before intermission. After the half, the Lions made only three three-pointers.
Willard was not thrilled with the team allowing four Columbia players to score in double figures, including letting Lions’ freshman guard Mike Smith pour in 23 points.
“We gotta work on our defense,” said Willard. “We have good defenders on this team, but we have to further develop them. Even though we did okay, we have to do a better job at creating turnovers.”
The win improved the Pirates to 5-2 this year. After winning the Big East Conference Championship and participating in the NCAA Tournament last season, the Pirates have high expectations this season.
The next game for the Pirates is next Tuesday against the University of Hawaii as part of the Fox Sports Pearl Harbor Invitational in Hawaii.