NEW YORK, NY - In a basketball game where a Seton Hall loss could have changed the good feelings of over a month of stellar play, the Pirates, instead, narrowly defeated St. John's, 62-61, at Madison Square Garden.
Seton Hall's star sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead sealed the contest with a pair of free-throws with five seconds left in the game.
St. John's came into the game with only one Big East win, while Seton Hall was sitting alone in third place, winners of five of its last six in conference play. Still this was not necessarily going to be an easy victory for the Pirates.
"This was a game that I looked forward to over the last week-and- half, said Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard. “I thought was going to be our toughest game. My New York kids coming back to the Garden. I thought St. John's was playing harder than anyone in the conference"
Seton Hall was paced today by the sophomore Desi Rodriguez, who scored a career-high 24 points. The Pirates leading scorer Isaiah Whitehead finished with only 10 points—almost seven points below his season average—but it was his defense and foul shooting that proved to help Seton Hall the most. He finished with a career high six steals and was eight of 10 from the foul line.
After Whitehead hit the eventual winning free throws, St. John's still had a chance to hit the game winner; however, the Pirates defense ultimately did not allow the Red Storm to get a shot off.
"That was just an old-school, grind it out game," said Willard. "Both teams played extremely hard. We got lucky enough to make free throws at the end."
For St. John's, the freshman Kassoum Yakwe scored a career-high 16 points and pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds.
Seton Hall is back at home for the next two games against nationally-ranked opponents Providence on Thursday, Feb. 25, and Xavier on Sunday, Feb. 28.
Mike Cohen is a contributor to TAP into SOMA and Founder/Director of Throwback Sports, a sports program for children. Cohen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.