January 25, 2014 at 11:55 PM
NEWARK, N.J. – There was a sense of a must-win mentality when the Seton Hall men’s basketball team stepped onto the Prudential Center floor for Saturday’s game with DePaul.
Not only did the Pirates feel like they let Thursday nights’ game with St. John’s slip away, but they also knew going 0-3 to open their home Big East schedule was not a long-term recipe for success.
Fuquan Edwin easily took care of that. The senior forward, whose last second turnover at midcourt ended Thursday’s loss, scored a game-high 30 points to lead the Pirates to am 86-69 victory over the Blue Demons.
“I thought he was really consistent,” Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard said. “I thought he came out with purpose and really attacked the rim. He really created some offense for us and got us going.”
Once the Pirates fell behind 4-3 in the opening minutes, Edwin took off. The Paterson native scored eight straight points, including back-to-back deep balls that capped a 10-0 run and put the Hall up nine. Seton Hall never trailed again.
“I just wanted to be active like I always am,” Edwin said. “My guys were just finding me on the break, that’s what I comfortable doing.”
Edwin scored 22 points in the first half, leading the Pirates to a 20-point advantage at halftime.
Though he cooled off in the second, Edwin was backed by the strong play from Patrik Auda.
The Czech Republic senior scored nine points in the second half, including three backboard-shattering slam-dunks.
Since returning from a foot injury on Dec. 22, Auda has been the most consistent player on the floor this season, averaging 10 points per game. However, Willard thinks he’s even better than that.
“I think he’s one of the best players in the conference,” Willard said. “I think he’s skilled, I think he’s tough, I think he can score inside and out. His only problem is he doesn’t believe that, yet. But he’s a great player.”
The victory was the Hall’s first at home since Big East play began on December 31. It was also the first game of a long string of home games that sees the Pirates at the Prudential Center for five of their next seven contests.
If the Hall want to compete in the Big East, Willard knows his team need to protect their home floor.
“This is a home stretch for us,” Willard said. “I think every home game is important for us right now. It’s nice to be home. When you start four out of six (on the road) and your two home games are Creighton and Villanova, that stretch was brutal for us. Not that any stretch is easy. Having five out of seven gives you time to get into a rhythm at least.”
Seton Hall is back in action on Wednesday when they host Butler for the first time in school history. Tip-off from The Rock is scheduled for 9 p.m.