NEWARK, NJ – The Seton Hall men’s basketball team had its ups and downs over the course of the opening week of Big East play.
After defeating Providence in double-overtime on New Year’s Eve, the Pirates struggled in their home opener against Creighton, 79-66, on Saturday at Prudential Center.
Led by senior star Doug McDermott, the Blue Jays were more than the Hall could handle for most of the game. McDermott, whose father Greg is the team’s head coach, scored a game-high 30 points to lead the first-year Big East team to their second win of the season.
“They’re a terrific basketball team,” Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard said. “I think what makes them really tough is that everyone on the team really knows their roles...Everyone talks about Doug (McDermott) and their offense, and they should, but they’re also a very good defensive team.”
The Pirates led early in the game, thanks to three of their first four baskets coming from beyond the arch. Seniors Fuquan Edwin and Brian Oliver provided the early scoring for the Hall.
However, once Seton Hall went up, 11-9, McDermott took over the game. He scored 11 points in the early minutes of the game and finished the first half with 24 as his Blue Jays led, 45-33, at the intermission.
The Pirates opened the second half up strong. Redshirt sophomore Sterling Gibbs led the Hall’s surge, bringing the deficit to single digits twice in the first 2:30 of the half. A Gibbs free throw brought the game within eight, however Seton Hall did not get any closer, falling to the Blue Jays, 79-66.
The Hall didn’t have any inside presence throughout the game. Due to injuries to centers Eugene Teague and Aaron Geramipoor, the Pirates were forced to play a small lineup throughout the contest. Creighton controlled the boards for all 40 minutes, resulting in 11 offensive rebounds and 19 second chance points.
“What killed us is that we gave them offensive rebounds,” Willard said. “You can’t give a good team second shots. I think they had eight offensive rebounds in the first half and 15 points. So you give a good team eight extra shots and 15 points and we also got a little mixed up on some of our switches and stuff like that.”
As of Saturday night, Willard did not expect any reprieve from the injury bug. Teague (concussion) and Geramipoor (ankle) are week-to-week. Teague, who suffered a concussion in the Pirates’ final regular season game against Lafayette, practiced briefly last Thursday, but left early due to reoccurring symptoms.
“He looked great today and felt great, but I made the decision that not to do anything for the near future,” Willard said. “We’re going to take it nice and slow. We’ve got to worry about life after basketball for Eugene.”
On the other hand, Geramipoor could return from a sprained ankle any day.
The Pirates (10-5, 1-1) return to action on Wednesday when No. 8 Villanova visits the Prudential Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.