Patrik Auda's second career double-double allowed Seton Hall to overcome road loss to Mercer with 16-point win over Monmouth. (Photo courtesy of the Newark Star-Ledger)
Seton Hall had been searching for a consistent second scoring option behind Fuquan Edwin, especially in the wake of Saturday's upset loss on the road to Mercer.
The Pirates may have found their new first mate after tonight.
Playing the game of his life, Patrik Auda's career night lifted Seton Hall to a comfortable 82-66 victory over in-state rival Monmouth tonight, with the Czech's 27-point, 10-rebound effort on 8-of-9 shooting enabling the Pirates (3-1) to put a shocking defeat behind them after just 48 hours.
"That kid is GOOD," Monmouth head coach King Rice gushed after the fourth-year junior had yet another coming-out party to bolster his early case for Most Improved Player honors in the Big East. "A whole bunch of teams need him right now."
In addition, junior college transfer Stephane Manga had by far his best game in a Seton Hall uniform, chipping in off the bench with 14 points and six rebounds on an evening where the Pirates shot 64 percent from the field in the second half to preserve a double-digit lead that reached 26 points with 11:53 remaining in regulation.
"I wanted to see what Steph could do for us," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said after the game, referring to his desire to give his Frenchman; and the rest of his reserves for that matter, significant minutes after Saturday's double-overtime loss.
The Pirates took the lead on an Auda free throw just 2:29 into the game, and never relinquished it after that, using a stingy defense to hold Monmouth to a 21-of-52 effort from the field to accompany the Hawks' 17-for-31 performance at the foul line.
"The two things we talked about before the game were 'make them score in the halfcourt and don't give them any threes,'" Willard remarked. "King does a good job coaching his guys, he really does."
Seton Hall moves on to face Oklahoma on Friday in the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, where they won their lone contest in the home of the Brooklyn Nets last season, defeating LIU Brooklyn by the final of 89-58 just one week after the Blackbirds lost Julian Boyd for the season with a torn ACL. Monmouth (1-2) will attempt to pick up the pieces against another Big East program Friday night, as the Hawks travel to Carnesecca Arena to visit St. John's.