Thursday, February 9, 2017

Powell's game-winner completes Seton Hall comeback against Providence

Myles Powell's game-winning layup with nine seconds left in overtime completed 15-point comeback as Seton Hall remained in NCAA Tournament conversation with win over Providence. (Photo by Joey Khan/The Setonian)

NEWARK, NJ -- Halfway into a rookie season that has been filled with the typical ebbs and flows of adjusting to the college game, one constant has remained for Myles Powell, that being the confidence of his coach and teammates in him to rise to the occasion.

Celebrated as a dead-eye shooter and potential game-changing scorer, Powell's ascent to the front of a talented Big East freshman crop has gone as anticipated, but not without its share of bumps in the road. Wednesday night, however, just happened to be a highlight that came at the most opportune of times for his team.

Displaying the poise of a veteran on the final offensive possession, Powell drove the lane and got a layup to fall with nine seconds remaining in overtime, the final basket in Seton Hall's gritty 72-70 victory over Providence, a triumph that the Pirates desperately needed in a contest that saw head coach Kevin Willard employ a six-man rotation.

"I knew that they had the faith in me to shoot it again," said Powell, who missed a three-pointer at the end of regulation that would have given Seton Hall (15-8, 5-6 Big East) a win at the buzzer rather than having to play an additional five minutes. "I backed up, looked at the shot clock and seeing that it was six seconds, I just tried to make a play."

Powell contributed 14 points on a night where he was essentially the lone bench presence for the Pirates, who did not have Ismael Sanogo due to a sprained ankle suffered last Saturday at Georgetown; or Eron Gordon, who was unable to suit up due to the flu. Seton Hall also announced the departure of backup point guard Jevon Thomas from the program earlier in the day. Because of the lack of depth, Khadeen Carrington (21 points, seven rebounds, five assists) and Angel Delgado (19 points, 15 rebounds) were pressed into warrior duty once again, playing 44 and 43 minutes, respectively.

The short rotation, coupled with a stagnant offense in the opening minutes, proved to be a boon to the visitors, as Providence (14-11, 4-8 Big East) used a 22-3 run midway through the first half to open a 27-12 lead with just over eleven minutes gone by. Seton Hall would battle back, scoring the next eight points and later uncorking a 12-1 spurt to pull within one late in the opening stanza, which ultimately concluded with the Friars holding a 41-36 advantage.

The Pirates responded yet again out of the intermission, scoring nine of the next eleven points to retake the lead before both teams traded 7-0 stretches, the second of which culminated in a Powell three-pointer that gave Seton Hall a slim 52-50 edge with 9:54 on the clock in regulation. The home team would not lead by more than four points, however, as Rodney Bullock; whose 19 points were tops among the visitors, scored the next five to pull Providence ahead on a 61-60 count inside the final minute of the second half. Desi Rodriguez tied the score with the first of two free throws before missing the second, and after forcing a turnover, Powell's attempt for the win fell short, warranting the extra session.

The Friars controlled the first half of the overtime period, squeaking out a three-point lead before a Delgado layup and go-ahead triple by Carrington pushed Seton Hall back in front. An Emmitt Holt jumper with 1:26 remaining in overtime knotted the score at 68, but Carrington's layup with 1:04 to play regained the lead for the Pirates, only for Holt to drain a pair of free throws on the next trip down the floor. With the score tied at 70, Powell drove in for the deciding bucket, then watched as Carrington secured the rebound of Kyron Cartwright's potential game-tying jumper to seal the win and keep hope alive in South Orange.

"I think we've been on track the whole time," head coach Kevin Willard said as the Pirates have navigated the Big East's hardest conference schedule, per KenPom. "The hardest thing is when you go on some dips, you have to get back on the ups. More than anything, these last two games have given us a chance to get back on the up."

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