March 3, 2014 at 11:54 PM
NEWARK, NJ – The Seton Hall men’s basketball team has had major success over two Big East teams this year. Having already swept Georgetown, the Pirates continued to strong play on Monday, defeating Xavier for the second time this season, 71-62, at Prudential Center.
Celebrating their Seton Hall careers, three seniors led the Pirates in scoring, as Eugene Teague, Brian Oliver and Fuquan Edwin combined to score 54 points in the victory.
“I think this win is really important,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “I talked to each one of the seniors about the contributions they have had. It has not been the most perfect or smoothest ride, but that is part of life.”
The Pirates trailed early, as Xavier’s Semaj Christon scored the game’s first bucket with 18:48 to play in opening frame. After Teague tied the game on the Hall’s next possession, the Pirates never fell behind again.
Oliver was on fire in the opening 20 minutes. He went 3-for-5 from beyond the arc, scoring 11 of his game high 20 points in the final six minutes of the first half.
“When he misses shots early in the game, he can get down on himself,” Willard said. “But tonight, he was loose and had that look in his eyes that said he could have a great night. That is what great shooters do. He bounced back from a rough night against Providence.”
Despite a slow offensive start to the game, the Seton Hall was able to go up by 12 at the half.
Xavier came out of the locker room throwing punches in the second half. Christon scored 12 of the Musketeer’s first 14 points in the final period, cutting Seton Hall’s lead to five.
Edwin responded, hitting a jumper then an old-fashioned 3-point-play to but SHU back up eight.
Seton Hall didn’t drop below that mark for the rest of the game, securing their 15th victory of the season.
“We were talking before the game, saying ‘like man, we need to go out with a win,’” Oliver said. “Its been frustrating all year. We know a lot of the fans have been frustrated too. We share that same frustration. For us, just to come out here, our last home game and come out with a win, that was our biggest thing.”
The Pirates have one more regular season game, a road contest in Indianapolis at Butler on Saturday, before coming home for the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
Seton Hall can reach the No. 7 seed in the tournament, but wherever they end up, Willard expects great things at The World’s Finest Arena.
“I still think we can win the Big East Tournament,” Willard said. “We have come close against every team and with the way Eugene is playing right now, with 17 [points] and 8 [rebounds] tonight, he gives us so much. I am not looking at this win as a sense of cloture. We still believe that we can make a run.”