NEWARK, N.J. — Seton Hall didn’t appreciate the way it unraveled down the stretch against in-state rival Rutgers, ending a five-game winning streak.
“We controlled that game and the way we lost was disappointing,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “I thought it was really important for the guys to clear their heads a little bit.”
So Willard gave the 23rd-ranked Pirates a few days off from practice to regroup and recoup. It showed Wednesday night in the Pirates’ 89-68 victory over Wagner at the Prudential Center.
“We came back and practiced with a purpose (on Tuesday),” Willard said. “Tonight, we played with a purpose.”
Senior guard Khadeen Carrington, who missed three key shots in the loss to Rutgers, bounced back to score a season-best 26 points. Carrington made all six of his attempts from 3-point range.
“Khadeen took good shots Saturday, but he missed shots he normally makes,” Willard said. “The big thing I wanted was for him to be our leader the last couple of days. I thought he came to practice very aggressive and very focused and that rubbed off on everyone tonight. I thought his mindset led to this game.”
Carrington was ready to put the loss to the Scarlet Knights in the rear view mirror.
“If you want to be a great player, you can’t dwell on bad games, bad losses,” Carrington said. “You have to bounce back. You have to put it behind you and get on to the next one.”
Besides Carrington, the Pirates got another solid effort from senior forward Angel Delgado, who scored 15 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and added five assists. It was the 58th time in his career that Delgado reached double figures in points and rebounds, which is tops in the nation.
“We talked about playing a team that we could beat up on a little from a physical standpoint,” Willard said. “It was nice to go inside early. Angel scored on an offensive rebound early. I think we were able to just get things to the rim and put some pressure on them.”
The Pirates also received 16 points from Myles Powell, 11 from Desi Rodriguez and 10 from Michael Nzei. Rodriguez grabbed nine rebounds.
Jo Jo Cooper paced Wagner (7-3) with 15 points and Nigel Jackson added 12.
Wagner coach Bashir Mason credited the play of Carrington.
“I thought Carrington was struggling this season offensively, but the type of player he is and he’s shown for years that I knew he was going to come out and be aggressive on us,” Mason said. “He went 6-for-6 from 3, which hurt us.”
Carrington enjoyed a stretch where he connected on three 3-pointers in span of 4 minutes.
The Pirates wasted little time taking control of the game, scoring the first six points and then jumped to a 22-8 lead after Carrington drained two straight 3-pointers in a span of 22 seconds.
The Seahawks sliced the lead to 38-30 with 6:42 remaining in the half on five straight points from Tyler Plummer on a layup and a 3-pointer.
Carrington added two free throws in the closing minute and Powell added a conventional three-point play with 23 seconds left, pushing the lead to 48-34 at the half.
The Seahawks cut the lead to 54-45 on seven points from Jackson, but Delgado put the Pirates back ahead by double digits by scoring five straight points.
“I was a little disappointed in my guys on the defensive end,” Mason said. “I thought we could have done a better job. We just need to get better from this one.”
The Pirates are the only Division I team to have three players who have scored 1,000 or more points during their career in Carrington, Delgado and Rodriguez. All three rank among the top 30 scorers in the history of the school, with Delgado moving past Donnell Williams into the No. 30 spot Wednesday night.
The Pirates lost leading scorer Rodriguez for a good portion of the second half, when he was fouled hard going to the basket for an apparent dunk with 12:10 remaining. He immediately hobbled off the court straight to the locker room with an apparent ankle injury, but returned to the game with 4 minutes left and quickly scored a basket. He finished eight points below his season average.
There were reports that surfaced after Saturday’s loss to Rutgers that Seton Hall freshman point guard Jordan Walker had left the program over a lack of playing time. But Willard said after the game that Walker reconsidered and was back with the team. Walker was dressed and on the bench, but did not play. “We had a good conversation Tuesday,” Willard said. “It was good for him to hear my thoughts and it was good for me to hear his. I think he’s frustrated he can’t play.” Walker has been battling a wrist and hand injury. “I think he has a bright future with us,” Willard said.
Seton Hall leads the all-time series between the schools 23-6, including a 17-1 mark at home. It marked the first time the teams met since the Pirates upended the Seahawks 69-59 on Nov. 15, 2015 at the historic Walsh Gym.
Wagner assistant coach Donald Copeland was a standout player at Seton Hall from 2003 through 2006, leading the Pirates to the NCAA Tournament in both the 2004 and 2006 seasons.
FAMILIAR TIES TO CARLESIMO
Both Wagner and Seton Hall were once coached by former NBA coach P.J. Carlesimo. The current ESPN analyst’s first head coaching job was at Wagner from 1976 through 1982, winning 65 games with the Seahawks. Carlesimo then went to Seton Hall and remained there for 12 seasons and won 212 games with the Pirates. He led the Pirates to the 1989 NCAA championship game.
It was the 58th time in Delgado’s Seton Hall career that he collected double figures in points and rebounds, the top figure in the nation. Delgado is the only active Division I player with more than 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.
THE BIG PICTURE
Seton Hall: The Pirates have won 22 straight games against non-conference opponents and 27 straight at the Prudential Center.
Wagner: Remarkably, Wednesday night marked the second time this season that the Seahawks played in Newark, having defeated NJIT 60-49 Nov. 11 in the inaugural game at NJIT’s new $110 million Wellness and Events Center.
UP NEXT: The Pirates host Manhattan in their final non-conference game Saturday.
The Seahawks travel to Dayton on Saturday.