Thursday, December 1, 2016

Seton Hall 95, Columbia 71: Recap & Thoughts

Myles Powell led all Seton Hall scorers with 21 points and seven three-pointers in Pirates' 95-71 thrashing of Columbia. (Photo by Jerry Carino/NJ Hoops Haven)

NEWARK, NJ -- Myles Powell made quite the impression two weeks ago, scoring 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting in a pivotal road win against Iowa.

Fortunately for Seton Hall fans, the freshman made sure to provide an equally strong memento for his home crowd in the first chance he got.

Making his first career start, Powell scored 21 points; all from three-point range, where he made seven of his ten attempts as Seton Hall put away an early challenge from Columbia to dismantle the Lions by the final of 95-71 at the Prudential Center.

"I just stayed with the game and let the game come to me," said Powell of his prolific night, one that placed him atop a quartet of double-figure efforts from the Pirates. "It was like throwing a rock in the ocean. As a shooter, you're not supposed to think you're going to miss. My teammates kept finding me and I kept letting it go."

"I did not expect the work ethic he had," head coach Kevin Willard chimed in, reflecting on Powell's third explosive game of his young career in just seven outings. "We recruited him since he was a freshman, and everyone had always told me he was a little lazy. Once he got in shape, he's been one of the hardest working kids we've had, and his work ethic has really improved to help him to be here."

Seton Hall (5-2) dominated the contest, never looking back after a 12-0 run to follow Lukas Meisner's game-opening three for Columbia gave the Pirates the lead for good. The Lions (3-4) would draw within single digits in the second half, but a 63 percent shooting effort for The Hall in the final stanza proved to be insurmountable for the visitors.

In addition to Powell, Angel Delgado recorded his third double-double of the season and first since November 13 against Central Connecticut State, posting 19 points and 11 rebounds. Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez tallied 17 points apiece in the winning effort, while Mike Smith's 23 reflected a game-high for Columbia.

Seton Hall heads to Hawaii for a two-game trip that commemorates the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, clashing with Hawaii and California in that stretch before returning to the mainland to meet South Carolina on December 12. As the Pirates prepare for an early-morning flight Friday, we send them off with five thoughts from this evening's convincing victory:

1) If you're a Pirate fan, you couldn't have asked for a better response than this.
Following a disappointing Advocare Invitational stint in which Seton Hall managed to win only one game, the Pirates returned to their norm tonight, outmuscling Columbia for a 46-20 edge in points in the paint and a plus-14 rebounding margin. 

"I wasn't that upset about the Florida trip," Willard candidly admitted. "You can't not play (Ismael) Sanogo and not have Myles Powell and expect guys to be ready to play positions they haven't played."

While the Pirates shot 59 percent from the floor, Sanogo was his usual unsung best on the defensive end; grabbing nine rebounds, but what stands out was the five assists recorded by the junior forward, further highlighting just how indispensable the Newark product is alongside Angel Delgado, who continues to fight his way through double-teams down low.

2) Seton Hall's ball movement was a stark contrast from Sunday's loss to Stanford.
In a game Willard and his staff would certainly like to forget, the Pirates amassed just five assists while committing 23 turnovers against the Cardinal. Four days later, they quadrupled their helper total while cutting their amount of miscues in half, managing 20 assists against 12 turnovers.

"That was a big emphasis that Coach made," said Powell about sharing the ball and finding the smart shot above all else. "Offensively, we were just trying to get the ball to Angel and just standing around, so Tuesday and Wednesday, we did a lot of passing the ball and different drills where we'd just drive and kick. It worked to perfection."

3) Is Powell in the starting lineup going to become standard practice?
The freshman did not disappoint when drawing the start in place of Madison Jones, who ended up playing 13 minutes off the bench, but Willard remained noncommittal for the moment when asked if Powell's insertion into the opening five would be a long-term situation.

"I think I might make that decision on who we're playing," he said.

4) A really good bounce back.
Those were Willard's own words when surmising tonight's game on the heels of three contests in four days in Orlando, and a sandwich of sorts before two games in Hawaii. "It was good to be home to practice," the coach assessed. "My only negative with Hawaii is that we're just not going to be home after this Florida trip and have six or seven days of practice."

5) Seton Hall's next trip is more than just basketball.
And more than a 12-hour flight to the Aloha State as well. "It's a phenomenal opportunity for this generation to understand the sacrifices of past generations," said Willard, putting the significance of the Pirates' journey into perspective. "When you have an opportunity to educate younger generations on the greatness of past generations, I don't think you could pass that up."

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