NEWARK, N.J. — Two years ago, Myles Powell was a little out of shape, a bit overweight and simply not ready to play college basketball.
But now, the Seton Hall sophomore is proving that he’s more than ready.
“Myles has become addicted to being in shape,” his coach, Kevin Willard, said after Powell scored 18 points to lead No. 23-ranked Pirates past Monmouth 75-65 in the NIT Tip-Off matchup Sunday.
“He understands that how well he’s playing is in direct effect to his body,” Willard said. “It’s all about his willpower and his willingness to change. He doesn’t eat as much as he once did. He doesn’t have that seventh cookie anymore.”
Powell lost 45 pounds before last season, when he averaged 10.7 points per game. He’s off to a better start this season, reaching double figures in scoring in both of Seton Hall’s victories.
Monmouth coach King Rice recognized the change in Powell.
“Everyone knows what he can do,” Rice said. “He changed his body. Now, he’s such in good shape that they should put him on a calendar. He doesn’t waste any energy shooting the ball. He knows he’s going to get good shots.”
Angel Delgado scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Four Seton Hall players reached double figures in scoring, with Khadeen Carrington having 14 and Michael Nzei adding 10.
Deion Hammond scored 17 points and Micah Seaborn had 16 for Monmouth (1-1).
Powell scored 13 of his points in the first half, when the Pirates jumped out to a double-digit lead. He scored his team’s first five points in the second half, as the Pirates pushed their lead to 53-34 with 18:11 remaining.
The two teams traded the lead six times in the first half before the Pirates pulled away in the closing minutes, thanks to the perimeter prowess of Powell, who drained two consecutive 3-pointers to begin an 11-0 run to take a 37-25 lead with 4:30 left. Desi Rodriguez capped the run with a 3 of his own.
The Pirates forced 21 turnovers that aided in the victory.
“Make no excuses, we got beat by a heavyweight today,” Rice said. “The number is next to their name for a reason. They showed us that they’re one of the top ranked teams in the country. We just didn’t want it to get to 25, 30 points. Our kids fought back.”
Willard was pleased with Powell’s performance.
“The way he’s shooting and once he gets into rhythm, he can get 20 to 25 a night,” Willard said. “I don’t know if anyone has seen just how good he can be.”
It was the 52nd time in Delgado’s Seton Hall career that he collected double figures in points and rebounds, the top figure in the nation. Delgado led the nation in rebounding last season, grabbing 13.1 per game. Delgado is the only active Division I player with more than 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.
Seton Hall tipped off the new season with a national ranking for the first time since 2000-01, when the Pirates started the year at No. 10. The last time the Pirates were ranked was March 14, 2016.
The Hawks have four true freshmen on their current roster in forward Melik Martin and guards George Papas, Marcus McClary and Deion Hammond.
“It’s the best freshman class I’ve had in my seven years at Monmouth,” Rice said. “All four are going to help us.”
THE BIG PICTURE
Seton Hall: The Pirates have never lost to the Hawks, winning all 13 matchups. In the last meeting, almost four years ago to the date, Nov. 18, 2013, the Pirates won 82-66, thanks to 27 points from Patrik Auda. The Pirates are the only Division I team with three returning 1,000-point scorers in Rodriguez, Delgado and Carrington.
Monmouth: The Hawks were coming off a thrilling 79-78 victory over Bucknell on Friday night, thanks to two free throws from Seaborn with five seconds left. Seaborn had his first career double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Seton Hall: The Pirates play host to Indiana on Wednesday night as part of four home games in nine days. The Seton Hall-Indiana game is part of the Gavitt Tipoff series.
Monmouth: The Hawks remain on the road to face Lehigh on Tuesday, part of five straight road contests. Monmouth faces Virginia next Sunday in Charlottesville.