NEW YORK — Seton Hall spent Friday morning watching film and the Pirates did not like what they saw, especially defensively.
Once it was time to take the court, the 20th-ranked Pirates decided to do something about it, even if it took a half to get going.
Desi Rodriguez scored a season-high 27 points and Seton Hall clamped down defensively in the second half and beat Vanderbilt 72-59 in the consolation game of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Barclays Center.
After allowing Rhode Island to shoot 60.7 percent in the first half of Thursday’s 75-74 loss, the Pirates bounced back defensively by holding Vanderbilt to 20.7 percent (6 of 29) in the second half and 33.9 percent overall.
“I loved our attitude. I loved the fact that we had a really, really tough loss and we didn’t play well — we had guys play well, and we woke up this morning with a great attitude that we — no matter what, we were going to get a victory, and that was the mentality all day,” coach Kevin Willard said. “To me, that’s a huge step forward for us mentally, because I would have struggled in years past to get them rolling, and I didn’t have to do much today besides tell them what I really wanted them to do.”
Rodriguez also helped Seton Hall turn its effective defense into proficient offense.
Rodriguez came within three of his career high, set Jan. 11 in an overtime loss at Marquette, and matched his second-highest point total. He made 12 of 21 shots and keyed an offense, which shot 46.6 percent overall.
“We just knew we had to bounce back,” Rodriguez said. “We didn’t want to keep dwelling on the past. It definitely was a bad loss for us. We just had to bounce back and get the ‘W’ today. We just want to work on getting better every game.”
“It was a learning experience,” Seton Hall forward Ismael Sanogo said. “You don’t just harp on that. You learn from the mistakes you made the other game, and we went over the film with Coach. He pointed out the things we could have did better and we did those things today.”
Angel Delgado added 15 points and eight rebounds as Seton Hall (5-1) dominated offensively and defensively after halftime by outscoring Vanderbilt 41-27.
Jeff Roberson had 20 points and 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double, surpassing his total from last season but it was not enough for Vanderbilt (2-4), which lost its fourth straight by missing all 12 of its 3-point attempts after halftime and 19 of 24 3-pointers overall.
“I think the biggest thing is that we didn’t make shots,” Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said.
Vanderbilt did not place another player in double figures, and leading scorer Matthew Fisher-Davis was held to four points on 2-of-9 shooting.
Seton Hall sprinted to a 13-4 lead less than 5 minutes in on consecutive baskets by Rodriguez. Vanderbilt gradually made a charge and took a 27-25 lead on a put-back by Roberson with about 5 1/2 minutes remaining.
Vanderbilt didn’t score for the final 4:27 and settled for a 32-31 halftime lead.
Seton Hall took the lead for good a layup by Rodriguez less than a minute into the second half and held a 46-34 lead with 12:03 remaining. The Pirates built a 17-point lead a few minutes later and the outcome was never in doubt.
“We did a really good job in the first half,” Drew said. “In the second half, we didn’t come out with the same intensity and didn’t really recover as far as making shots.”
Seton Hall: Seton Hall survived a quiet night from Khadeen Carrington, who is its fourth-leading scorer mostly because of how Rodriguez and Delgado played. Carrington scored one point on 0-of-5 shooting, marking the third time he was limited to less than 10 points so far. Despite the quiet night one end from Carrington, Willard noted how the point guard also led the defense. Willard also made a modification to his starting frontcourt, inserting Sanogo in place of Michael Nzei. Sanogo finished with four points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes.
Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt entered its trip to Brooklyn averaging 75.2 points but better competition showcased some significant struggles. After nearly going the first 8 minutes without a basket Thursday against Virginia, the Commodores experienced a more significant drought Friday by going nearly 13 minutes without a basket spanning the final 4:27 of the first half and the first 8-plus minutes after halftime. During that stretch, Vanderbilt missed 13 straight shots.
Seton Hall: faces Texas Tech at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.
Vanderbilt: hosts Radford on Tuesday.