Rodriguez scores 19, No. 22 Seton Hall beats pesky NJIT
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Kevin Willard has more than very three talented seniors on No. 22 Seton Hall. His young kids are starting to step up.
Senior Desi Rodriguez scored 19 points and Seton Hall used an 18-2 second-half run to shake off pesky NJIT and post an 82-53 victory on Saturday.
Sophomore Myles Powell added 13 points for the Pirates (4-0), Myles Cale had 11 and fellow freshman big man Sando Mamukelashvili added 11 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots on a day that Willard decided to give senior center Angel Delgado some rest after he tweaked a calf in the second half.
“The other guys gave us a lot of energy,” Rodriguez said of the bench. “Myles Cale played well, Eron Gordon (seven points, three assists) played well, Sandro played well. Our starters were sluggish today and they came and picked us up and ran up the score. That was good for us.”
Willard said he talked to Mamukelashvili on Friday because the native of the Republic of Georgia was a little frustrated after three games. He told the 6-foot-10 forward he was close, sometimes a step slow or just in the wrong position.
He got it right on Saturday along with Powell, who starts, and Cale, who had a 3-point basket and a three-point play in the big run in helping the Pirates win their 20th straight non-conference game at the Prudential Center.
Rodriguez was the stabilizing senior. He was 7 of 13 from the field, hit all three free throws and added seven rebounds.
“Desi is an elite player,” Willard said. “He has put the work in, he has the confidence. He is scoring in so many different ways. He is playing at a very high level.”
Senior Khadeen Carrington added nine points as the Pirates beat NJIT for the sixth time in as many games. The big surprise was Delgado being held to five points and two rebounds in 16 minutes, playing only 2 minutes in the second half.
“He has logged a lot of minutes already,” Willard said of Delgado, who led the nation in rebounding last season. “He’s a workhorse, so I kind of gave him the night off, which he deserves.”
Abdul Lewis had 10 points and five rebounds to lead the Highlanders (1-2), who drew within 39-35 after scoring the first five points of the second half. Chris Jenkins added nine points for NJIT, which is winless in 15 games at the Prudential Center, which is about a mile from its campus.
“I thought we came out with good purpose in the second half and got a couple of quick buckets and then their size and physicality kind of wore us down,” NJIT coach Brian Kennedy said.
NJIT, now 1-22 against Big East schools, made Seton Hall work for this one despite never leading in the game. They were tied at 10 early, and got within 33-30 late in the first half before Seton Hall scored the final six points, two on fast breaks by Powell.
“That is a very tough and scrappy team,” Rodriguez said. “They are down the street from us and I know they were going to come in and go at us. We just had to keep our composure and do well down the stretch.”
NJIT: The Highlanders get a break with home games against Kean, Drexel and LIU Brooklyn over the next 10 days before going to West Virginia on Nov. 30 to face the 24th-ranked Mountaineers.
Seton Hall: The competition will pick up in the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn with a game against Rhode Island on Thanksgiving and then either a title game or consolation against either Virginia or Vanderbilt. All four teams in the tournament played in the NCAA Tournament last season.
DEFENSE: Seton Hall held NJIT to 20 field goals and 37 percent shooting. The Highlanders also turned the ball over 18 times. The Pirates dominated inside, holding a 38-29 margin on the boards, a 38-20 advantage on points in the paint, and a 13-4 edge on second-chance points.
CHANGING OFFICIALS: Matt Potter started the game as one of the three officials because Nathan Hall was late getting to the game because of a delayed plane. Hall replaced Potter at the start of the second half and finished the game.
NJIT: hosts Division III Kean on Wednesday
SETON HALL: faces Rhode Island in NIT Season Tip-Off at Barclays Center in New York City on Thanksgiving. The Pirates are delaying their turkey dinner until the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Willard said.