Wagswoofs – The teams in the Big East Conference have always faced a unique challenge. While they may perform well in non-conference play, the dynamics shift once they enter league action.
Seton Hall pulled off a stunning upset on Wednesday night, defeating No. 5 UConn with a score of 75-60 at Prudential Center. The team’s suffocating defense played a crucial role in securing their biggest victory in three years. This loss for UConn comes just a day after No. 6 Marquette was also upset by Providence. Both games serve as a reminder that even the top-ranked teams are susceptible to upsets in the highly competitive world of college basketball.
“Really, just really stunned by how unprepared I had these guys for a tough physical conference game,” UConn coach Danny Hurley said. “Credit, Shaheen [Holloway, Seton Hall coach]. Credit, Seton Hall. You know, they just kind of poked us there in Big East Conference fashion. So just a really, really disappointing effort.”
Seton Hall’s Kadary Richmond showcased his skills with an impressive 23 points and eight steals. Joining him on the scoreboard, Dre Davis contributed 17 points to the team’s success.
Seton Hall secured their third consecutive victory, bringing their overall record to 8-4. The Huskies, on the other hand, saw their three-game winning streak come to an end, as they now stand at 10-2.
UConn suffered a 69-65 loss in their previous game against No. 2 Kansas.
In January 2020, Seton Hall pulled off an impressive victory by defeating Butler, the nation’s No. 5 team.
The Pirates managed to defeat Villanova on two occasions, both times when the Wildcats held the impressive third position in the rankings.
Holloway concurred with Hurley’s sentiment that conference games have a tendency to be intense and unpredictable, often resembling a battle of wits and skill.
“We lost some games we probably should’ve won,” Holloway said about the non-conference part of the season. “And the reason why I’m so excited about this team is because we are still not playing the way I think we could play. And that’s why I said it a couple weeks ago. I’m saying again, we still trust we can get a lot better.”
According to Hurley, the Huskies had to play the remaining 16 minutes and 33 seconds of the game without their starting center, Donovan Clingan, due to a sprained right ankle.
The sophomore scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds. After a brief visit to the locker room, he came back to the bench but didn’t see any further playing time.
Hurley expressed his disappointment with his team’s performance, describing it as embarrassing. He emphasized that the upcoming film session on Thursday would be particularly harsh, especially when the team witnesses their defensive shortcomings.
“We will respond accordingly. Losing to UConn is a tough blow for everyone,” expressed Hurley with a sense of empathy.
According to Richmond and Davis, Seton Hall simply played its game.
The team prioritized defense, effectively limiting UConn’s long-range shooting to just 4-for-21. They displayed tenacity and determination throughout the game.
Jaden Bediako, the towering presence for the Pirates, contributed 10 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks in the game. He effectively disrupted the offense by thwarting Clingan’s scoring attempts. Al-Amir Dawes also made a valuable contribution to the team with 11 points.
UConn struggled to find its rhythm, committing a season-high 17 turnovers and recording a season-low point total. Despite a valiant effort from Tristen Newton, who scored 16 points, the team fell short in its offensive performance.
Seton Hall, who had an impressive 59 percent shooting performance in their victory against Missouri on Sunday, continued their hot shooting streak by making 29 of their 56 attempts from the field, resulting in a solid 52 percent shooting percentage.
Seton Hall made an impressive comeback in the first half after trailing 20-10 with 8:47 remaining. They closed out the period with a remarkable 24-9 run, led by the outstanding performances of Davis and Richmond. Davis contributed eight crucial points, while Richmond scored seven consecutive points at one point during the run.
In a thrilling turn of events, Dawes stepped up and contributed four crucial points, while Davis added three of his own, propelling the Pirates to a halftime lead of 34-29. The game was evenly poised, with the score tied at 27, but the efforts of Dawes and Davis provided the Pirates with a much-needed advantage heading into the break.
Seton Hall maintained a comfortable lead throughout the second half, leaving UConn with no chance of a comeback. The Pirates held a double-digit advantage for the last 7 minutes and 32 seconds of the game.
Looking at the big picture
The Huskies of UConn, who will be hosting St. John’s on Sunday, emerged victorious against Gonzaga on Friday. However, throughout the game, they seemed to be still adjusting to the time difference from the West Coast.
Clingan’s status is definitely a cause for concern.
Seton Hall showcased their exceptional form as they continued their winning streak after a remarkable victory against Missouri. Now, they face a tough challenge on the road against Xavier this Saturday. However, the Pirates are determined to surpass their previous performance, as they take on a formidable opponent that leads the Big East in both scoring and scoring defense.