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Pirates poised for ‘Nova

Is Saturday’s victory over No. 12 Providence the start of something special?

Seton Hall Coach Kevin Willard and the Pirates certainly hope so, as they put on a basketball clinic in dominating the Friars, to win 81-72, in front of 11,148 at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence.

Perhaps the most telling aspect in the Seton Hall win was their total dominance on the glass.
The Pirates pounded the boards from the opening tip which resulted in a decisive 50-36 edge over the listless Friars.

The last time the Pirates grabbed 50 or more rebounds was on December 5, 2015 when they totally destroyed in-state rival Rutgers 84-55.

“That’s who we are,” said Willard in speaking to reporters after the win. “We are an aggressive, driving team and that’s how we played today.”

Seton Hall (12-4, 3-2 Big East) also received a huge contribution from transfer Derrick Gordon (Plainfield,NJ/ St.Patrick’s/UMass), who got the starting nod and was charged with harassing Friar Player of the Year candidate Kris Dunn (New London, Ct/ New London HS).

The move by Willard turned out to be a pivotal one, as Gordon added valuable energy and experience to the Pirate cause, holding Dunn to 16 points (5 of 11) while scoring 15 points and grabbing 7 boards in a solid starting role.

Khadeen Carrington (Brooklyn, NY/ Bishop Loughlin) led the Pirates with 22 points, while dynamic point guard Isaiah Whitehead scored 15 and Desi Rodriguez (Bronx,NY/ Abraham Lincoln) added 10.

On the Providence side (15-3, 3-2 Big East), Coach Ed Cooley was none too happy with his team’s effort.

“Give the credit to Seton Hall as they totally outplayed us,” said the coach in a very blunt postgame press conference. “To play like we did, on our home floor in a conference game, in front of this kind of crowd, is just unacceptable.”

Ben Bentil led the Friars with 21 points (17 in the second half) and 9 boards in a losing effort, which saw Providence shoot just 30.1% from the field in the game.

The win gives the Pirates and their sophomore-laden lineup some renewed confidence that hopefully will carry-over into Wednesday’s rematch at the Pru Center (FS1p.m) against the No. 6 Villanova Wildcats (16-2, 6-0 Big East).

‘Nova taught Willard’s youngster’s a lesson as Daniel Ochefu poured in 20 points and grabbed 8 rebounds to lead the Wildcats to a 72-63 win on January 6.

If the Pirates can bring the some aggressiveness and balanced scoring to the hardwood as they did against the Friars, a second consecutive “W” over a top-ranked opponent is realistic.

Obviously, priority No. 1 is dealing with Ochefu, who is dominating both ends of the floor, like he is a potential NBA lottery pick.

Seton Hall put the handcuffs on Providence’s post player Ben Bentil (at least in the first half) so something similar could be part of Willard’s game planning against the Wildcats.

The road won’t get any easier for Seton Hall with a road trip to Xavier on January 23.
Welcome to the Big East ….

Follow Bob Whitney on Twitter for all the pregame, game and postgame highlights: @WhitneyBob

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Bob Whitney

Bob is a college basketball columnist here at He also covers Yale football and the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA.
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