|Xavier celebrates a late basket. Photo by Jason Schott.
Seton Hall nearly erased a 16-point second half deficit against Xavier, but they came up short, losing by one point, 70-69, on Wednesday night at the Prudential Center.
This broke a three-game winning streak for Seton Hall, who fell to 7-7 in Big East play, and they remain tied with St. John's fore third place in the conference. St. John's lost at Providence, 78-59. Seton Hall matches up with St. John's on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Xavier was led by Naji Marshall, who had 28 points on 11-23 from the field, including 5-12 from behind the arc, with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Tyrique Jones had 18 points (7-14 FG) and 15 rebounds (including 6 on the offensive end) to give him a double double, along with two assists and a steal.
Seton Hall was led by Myles Cale, who had 21 points on 9-16 from the field, including 3-8 on three-pointers, with 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Myles Powell had 17 points (6-16 FG, 2-7 three-pointers), with 8 rebounds and 2 assists.
|Myles Cale hitting a fade-away three-pointer in the first half. Photo by Jason Schott.
Xavier opened this one strong, jumping out to an 8-2 lead, with Jones contributing six of those points.
Seton Hall battled back quickly, tying it up at 10 on a Myles Powell fast break lay-in at the 15:36 mark of the first half.
After falling behind 26-20, the Hall went on a run and regained the lead when Powell got a defensive rebound, whipped a pass the length of the floor to Jared Rhoden, who then made a behind-the-back pass to Taurean Thompson, who slammed it home to make it 32-31 at 5:15 of the first half.
Seton Hall went up 36-33 on a Sandro Mamukaleshvili jumper at 3:33, but Xavier then closed the half on a 13-2 run to take a 46-38 lead into the half. Jones and Marshall combined for 33 of their 46 first half points, as Jones had 18, most of them via the dunk, and Marshall had 15.
In the second half, Seton Hall opened on a 9-3 run capped by a Mamukaleshvili layup that made it 49-47 at the 13:42 mark, and kept it at two points when Cale hit a jumper at 11:47 that made it 51-49
Xavier then took over, as they went on a 17-3 run, led by Marshall, who had 13 points in the stretch, to take a 68-52 lead with 6:23 remaining.
Seton Hall then began to chip away, starting with a pair of Mamukaleshvili free throws, then Marshall proceeded to fire up an air ball and miss a corner three, followed by Cale hitting a jumper in the paint to pull them back within 10, at 68-58, at the 4:26 mark.
Powell then for a steal and a dunk on a fast break, followed by Cale draining a three, and Powell getting to the line and draining a free throw to make it a 12-0 run and a four-point game, 68-64, with 2:59 left.
Elias Harden broke the drought for Xavier, as he drained a jumper with 2:48 left that made it 70-64.
A little later, with 1:48 left, Harden fell down while covering Cale, who stepped back for what turned out to be a wide-open three and he drained it to make it 70-67.
ShavarReynolds, famous for his game-winner against St. John's on December 29, was in there for Seton Hall down the stretch, and he drained a pair of free throws with 53.6 seconds left.
Xavier took their time on the ensuing possession, and Quentin Goodin had a good look at a jumper with 27 seconds left, but it rimmed out.
The chase was on as the ball went towards the Butler bench, and it looked as if Mamukaleshvili had a beat on it, but Powell got closest, getting a handle on it, but was knocked down, and eventually went out of bounds off of him.
That no-call gave Xavier the ball with 23 seconds left, and Seton Hall fouled Jones. They were in the single bonus, so Jones got a one-and-one and he missed the first free throw.
Seton Hall corralled the rebound, and they brought the ball into the front court before calling a timeout with 14 seconds remaining.
The Pirates worked the ball around, as just as they had on the last possession of the St. John's game, Powell found Reynolds at the top of the key for a three-pointer with three seconds on the clock that hit the back of the rim and went way up in the air, over the backboard.
By the time it came down, Cale got the offensive rebound as the clock hit zero, preventing him from getting a shot off, ending the game in an anti-climactic fashion.
|Waiting for the ball to come down on the final play. Photo by Jason Schott.
Powell said of the final play, "It was an iso for me, but I saw Quincy sag off, I threw it to Quincy, he threw it back to me, and then I tried to go again and I tried to do a spin move, and I see Shavar come over and try to steal it, and I picked it up, and Shavar was in the same spot that he hit the game-winner against St. John's. Like I've been telling you all year, we believe in each other, we believe we're brothers, and I passed him the ball believing in him to make the shot and, if he's open again next time, I'm going to pass it to him again."
Seton Hall Head Coach Kevin Willard was asked if he agreed with getting the ball to Reynolds and trying to create that big moment from six weeks ago, and he said, "I'd rather have Myles shoot it."
On what he intended for Powell on that last play, Willard said,
"They had ten team fouls, so I tried to get them to rip through or go with a step-back, maybe a ball fake, something like that. Naji (Marshall) did a great job on him all night, you gotta give him credit."
Powell said of the original plan on that final play, "I was getting to the rack, we were down one, so I mean, I was going to try to get to the basket, and as I tried to make my spin move, I see that, like I said, Shavar trying to pick me up from the back, I read it and I passed Shavar the ball, he was wide open. It was the right basketball play, and things just didn't go our way tonight."
The Seton Hall defense tightened up down the stretch, as they held Xavier to just two points in the final 2:48 and held Jones scoreless in the second half.
Willard said of shutting down Jones, "I think the biggest difference was Tyrique didn't really score on the low post. I think he scored on two post moves, but for the most part, he scored most of -- he had two offensive rebounds for dunks and he had two dribble penetrations for dunks. I think Sandro (Mamukelashvili) did a really good job early in the second half of battling, getting him off the paint, but I thought we did a little bit better job of trying to keep guys in front of us in the second half."
Romaro Gill got his second start of the season, as Willard was hoping he would find the magic he did at Xavier on January 2, when he had 4 points and 5 rebounds in 22 minutes. He was no help down low against Jones or Hankins, and he only played eight minutes in this one, notching two rebounds and did not attempt a shot.
Willard said of Saturday's matchup vs. St. John's, and its challenges, "Our last four, every one's a challenge. There's no easy nights in this conference, and we've got a tough road ahead of us and we've got to bounce back...
"We're in late February. We've got to move on and get ready for St. John's."