– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
NEWARK, N.J. — Even as they have leaked a significant amount of oil down the stretch, the Seton Hall Pirates knew that their NCAA Tournament fate was in their hands, as the Big East’s top two teams were visiting Newark in the final week of the regular season.
Pirates guard Myles Powell made sure his two hands were chiefly responsible in helping to lift Seton Hall to the Big Dance as his team passed the first big test of the week in fantastic fashion.
Powell, second in the Big East in scoring, exploded for 34 points, including 10 consecutive points in the midst of a game-ending 18-0 run for Seton Hall as it defeated No. 16 Marquette 73-64 at the Prudential Center.
“We knew what was on the line,” said Powell, who also had five rebounds and five assists. “We knew the opportunity that we had tonight and we seized the moment.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Pirates while extending the Golden Eagles skid to three straight. Marquette’s streak appeared to be coming to an end as it held the lead for most of the game and still was up 64-55 with just over four minutes remaining.
After Quincy McKnight scored on a layup to cut the Pirates’ deficit to seven, Powell took control of the contest, scoring the game’s next 10 points on two layups and two three-pointers. The final three points of his personal spree, a pull-up trifecta from the coaches’ box, gave the Pirates a 67-64 lead and virtually blew the lid off of the Prudential Center.
Seton Hall (17-12, 8-9 Big East) made all six of its free throws in the final 56 seconds to close out an improbable victory, one which came on the heels of losing three straight to fellow Big East bubble teams Xavier, St. John’s and Georgetown.
“That’s a big one, just because of where we are this time of year and how good of a team they are,” said Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard. “When you’re looking at Big East seedings and the Big East Tournament and where everybody is, it’s so jumbled up that getting a win like this, it just helps enormously, especially as hard as these guys have been playing.”
Marquette (23-7, 12-5) missed its last 10 shots from the field, a stretch of play that finally doomed the Golden Eagles after it got away with playing a lackluster first half as it built a 37-31 lead after 20 minutes. The Golden Eagles’ 18 turnovers — 14 committed in the first half alone — led to 25 Seton Hall points while Markus Howard, the nation’s fifth-leading scorer at 25.5 points per game, was held to just six points on 2-of-11 shooting.
“I think our guys are really pressing,” said Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski. “I got a group in our locker room that really cares and wants to do some great things, but I think we are pressing. When you press, it has a tendency to lead to bad decisions or you put too much on a shot and I thought we really pressed.”
Forward Sam Hauser led the Golden Eagles with 25 points, including hitting five three-pointers, as he was the only Golden Eagle on the night to make more than three shots from the floor.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Wednesday evening’s game, with all photos taken by Jersey City-based photographer Arturo Holmes. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 31 pictures in total.