Regional Sports

Seton Hall comes up small

Three of four Big East teams failed to distinguished themselves in the NCAA tournament.

The St. John’s Red Storm embarrassed themselves in their 74-65 loss to Arizona State on Wednesday night in the play-in game. Murray State star and future NBA draft pick JA Morant destroyed Marquette’s will by scoring a triple-double of 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds in Murray State’s 83-64 buttkicking of Marquette on Thursday afternoon. Seton Hall could not keep up with Wofford’s torrent shooting in an 84-68 loss to Wofford on Thursday night.

Of course, Villanova saved the Big East conference from embarrassment by earning a 61-57 victory over the feisty Saint Mary’s Gaels. All they do is win in March. It’s like the varsity showing the junior varsity how it’s done.

So much for the Big East being back. Villanova runs over the bunch of current Big East mediocre teams ever since the Catholic schools formed up the conference while rest of the Big East teams left to the ACC and ditched UConn and Cincinnati in the process. Hard to think this narrative changes anytime soon no matter how much the Big East boosters like to say the conference got better.

Big East fans can debate among themselves about which Big East team stunk the most. For me, the Seton Hall Pirates stand out of all the participating Big East teams in the field of 68.

This was a team that had designs of playing next weekend for a chance to be in the Elite Eight or Final Four. This writer pegged them to go to the Final Four. Why not? Seton Hall played its best basketball for the last two weeks, and they had their star that can take them to where they want to go. It felt like destiny for them.

Instead, March Madness on Thursday night turned out to be March Sadness for the Pirates.

The Wofford Terriers outplayed Seton Hall in this contest. They shot 48 percent from the field, and they shot 46 percent from the 3-point line. They made shots down the stretch by going on a 12-0 run after their lead was cut to 67-66 despite Seton Hall pressing and trapping them at will.

Myles Powell performed as well he could in willing the Pirates to be in this game by leading them to a 12-0 run that would give them a 54-53 lead with 10:52 to go. It sure looked like the game was going to be on the Pirates’ side with him leading the way by scoring 23 of his 27 points in the second half. Instead, the Terriers had one more haymaker in them.

Here’s the bottom line: Powell’s supporting cast failed Powell and Seton Hall while Wofford sweet-shooter Fletcher Magee (24 points) had help from Nathan Hoover (18 points), Storm Murphy (11 points) and Cameron Jackson (14 points).

Seton Hall received nothing from Myles Cale (seven points), Sandro Mamukelashvili (eight points), Quincy McKnight (six points) and Michael Nzei (four points). No disrespect to Jared Rhoden, but if he is the Seton Hall’s second best player in the game by scoring nine points in the game, then they deserved to go home instead of advancing.

Powell can win games by himself, but if his supporting cast offer meager support, it’s even going to be hard for him to lead the Hall.

If Seton Hall pulled it off, Powell’s legend would continue to grow. He was the only one that showed up in this game, which was a given based on the season he has had. That’s the sad thing about all this.

Seton Hall’s players will be soul-searching this entire summer after fading in a big stage. They expected more out of themselves, and they had bigger dreams when the tournament started.

This season turned out to be a success, but disappointment will linger, too. Those are two different things, but it’s okay for the Hall to experience both views of this season.

Getting to the NCAA tournament should not be good enough for the Pirates anymore. It’s about going to the Sweet 16 year in and year out. That’s how a program can be viewed as success. There’s no reason to think a Big East school like Seton Hall should have Sweet 16 aspirations. This program graduated where expectations are created.

From now on, anything short of winning a tournament game should be deemed as disappointment for the Hall.

Like the late game in Jacksonville on Thursday night.

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