March 2, 2012 at 10:21 PM
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – When the Seton Hall Pirates and DePaul Blue Demons take the floor in Chicago on Saturday night, more than just a regular-season game will be on the line.
The Pirates (19-10, 8-9 in Big East) enter their final game of the season on the inside of the NCAA Tournament field and the No. 8 seed in next week’s Big East Championships. A win over the Blue Demons would secure the No. 8 seed and possibly secure a bid into March Madness.
That’s easier said than done.
The Pirates are coming off a 77-72 loss to Rutgers at home last Saturday. Despite having five players in double figures, Seton Hall turned the ball over with the score tied at 72 with 44 seconds left before Rutgers freshman Jerome Seagears hit a corner three to win the game for the Scarlet Knights.
However, history is in the Hall’s favor on Saturday.
The Pirates have owned the overall series between the two teams, winning eight of the last 10 meetings, including five victories in a row. In their last meeting on Jan. 10, the No. 24 Pirates, ranked for the first time since 2001, defeated the Blue Demons 94-73.
Sophomore Fuquan Edwin had a career night for the Hall. He scored 28 points and nine rebounds. Senior Jordan Theodore added 26 points and a career-high 11 assists. Seton Hall had a 17-point lead at halftime and led by as many as 24 points in the second half. The Pirates shot 58 percent, compared to the 34 percent of the Blue Demons.
In the victory, the Pirates owned the paint over the very small DePaul team, scoring 44 of their 94 points inside the free throw line.
With Seton Hall’s postseason hopes on the line, look for Seton Hall to come out of the gate firing on all cylinders. Despite head coach Kevin Willard’s uneasiness at playing on the road to end the season, this is a very winnable road game for the Pirates.
“I’d rather be at home if I have to finish out the season and win a game,” Willard said. “I’d still rather have a home game.”
The Blue Demons are 6-9 at home, but have lost six games in a row at Allstate Arena. DePaul narrowly lost to Providence on Feb. 25 at home, and they took Louisville to overtime before falling 90-82. In their last game, the Blue Demons lost by 17 to the West Virginia Mountaineers.
For the Pirates to come away with a victory on the road, Seton Hall must match the intensity that DePaul will bring to the game. The Blue Demons will be honoring their seniors, Krys Faber and Jeremiah Kelly, before the game.
The Hall also needs to control the pace of the game. In their last meeting, the Pirates forced 15 turnovers, scoring 18 points on the takeaways. They controlled the game for much of the 40 minutes. However, during a stretch in the second half, the Pirates turned the ball over because of full court pressure put on by DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell.
If the Pirates can come out of the opening tip-off with some intensity and then control the pace of the game, Seton Hall should come away with their 20th win of the season ninth Big East win, and the No. 8 seed in next week’s Big East Championships at Madison Square Garden.
Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Timothy LeCras is participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts designed to give students real-world experience.