NEWARK, NJ - Perhaps not coincidentally, Seton Hall had its best outing of the season on senior day when before the game the team honored its leader Derrick Gordon.

The Pirates defeated the number 5-ranked team in the country Xavier, 90-81 and now are considered a lock for its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006.

Gordon, a Plainfield resident and transfer from UMass, in his first and only year with the Pirates has provided invaluable leadership and stability to a team comprised of mostly sophomores.

Sign Up for E-News

"I can't say enough good things about Derrick Gordon," said Seton Hall's coach Kevin Willard. "He's such a pleasure to be around, such a good person, he's such a good teammate. I've been so blessed to have been able to coach him and I think we are all blessed to have him as a teammate."

When the Pirates make its NCAA tournament appearance in a few weeks, Gordon will be the first player in Division 1 basketball history to play in the tournament for three different teams. Prior to playing at UMass Gordon played for Western Kentucky.

"We're really close regardless of whether we win or lose" said Gordon. "We're not going to spread out. We're going to stay together."

Sophomore Desi Rodriquez exploded for career-highs of 27 points and 12 rebounds for Seton Hall. Isaiah Whitehead continued his splendid season worthy of Big East player of the year consideration with 22 points and five assists. Gordon had 8 points and 6 rebounds in his fourth start of the season.

Next up for Seton Hall is a trip to take on Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday, March 2.

Mike Cohen is the sports editor of Education Update and the Founder/Director of Throwback Sports, a sports program for children. He can be reached at throwbacksports@verizon.net.