NEWARK, N.J. – They competed and battled, as they have all season long. Once again, they came up short.
In the end, eighth-ranked Villanova had too much as Seton Hall went down on the short end of 83-66 defeat at the Prudential Center on Wednesday.
The numbers of note:
Offensively Villanova put up the numbers thanks to a complementary strong inside and perimeter game. JayVaughn Pinkston, the 6-7 redshirt Junior, scored 17 points. As a team the Wildcats shot 52 percent for the game and a scorching 52 percent as well from downtown. Darrun Hillard was 4 of 5 from long range for the Wildcats.
Seton Hall trailed by six at the break. In the second half, they fell behind by double digits a few times. The run was made to get it back to a two-possession game, but each time the Wildcats answered. Down the stretch Villanova was in control of a game that saw only one tie and one lead change.
Hilliard led the Wildcats with 19 points while Brian Oliver of Seton Hall was the game-high scorer with 20. Patrik Auda and Sterling Gibbs added 13 apiece for the Hall.
Ryan Arcidiacono scored 14 points, knocking down three three pointers for the Wildcats. “We knew his (Arcidicono) role would change,” said Villanova coach Jay Wright. “Last year he shot the ball. This year we want him to run the team but still don’t be hesitant and look for his shot. The balance (between distributing and shooting) is what we need.”
Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said injuries have taken, for now, three of his best defenders. Injuries have also weakened Willard’s depth and shortened his rotation. No excuse, though, for a 1-2 start in Big East.
“We knew our opening stretch would be tough,” Willard said. The Pirates were at Providence for a conference opening win before coming home to lose to arguably the two best conference teams in Creighton and Villanova. Up next are road games with Marquette and Georgetown before a home date with St. John’s. “At least we have a few days to practice, rest a bit and heal before going to Marquette (on Saturday).”
Villanova improved to 14-1 (3-0) while Seton Hall is now 10-6 (1-2).