By Kevin Sweeney
Entering Wintrust Arena today, Angel Delgado needed just 2 rebounds to become the Big East’s all-time leading rebounder.
He grabbed 19 of them, setting the tone for an 86-70 victory Sunday over DePaul as the Pirates got back on track in Big East play. Myles Powell led all scorers with 21 points, including some huge shots in the second half when DePaul tried to make things interesting.
The first half was very much a half defined by runs. After Seton Hall ran out to a 19-8 lead in the early going, DePaul responded, as some excellent play from freshman PG Justin Roberts helped get the Blue Demons back within 23-21.
“His ability to put the ball in the basket is obvious,” DePaul head coach Dave Leitao said of Roberts. “My hope for him is as we turn the page from January to February that he can start shaking off what makes a young guy young.”
But with Roberts sidelined with 2 fouls, Seton Hall took advantage, going on a 23-6 extended run to seize full control of the game as the first half wound down. The Pirates got 19 points from their bench in the opening period, an area where the Pirates have struggled at times this season.
For much of the second half, it appeared that the Pirates would have no issue putting away the Blue Demons. But DePaul had one run left in them. Trailing 64-46 with 11:59 to go, DePaul went on a 12-2 run, cutting their deficit to just 8 and electrifying the crowd at Wintrust Arena. The run was sparked by Eli Cain, the talented junior guard who had struggled for much of the night, as he got a pair of buckets and connected on a beautiful assist to help get the Blue Demons going. But Powell was there with the answer, hitting a pair of big 3’s that helped ice the game for the Pirates.
Seton Hall’s ability to slow down Cain and DePaul’s leading scorer Max Strus was huge in the winning effort. Cain went for just 11 points on just 5-18 shooting, while Strus never really got involved in the game and was held to a very quiet 9 points on 4-9 shooting.
Leitao blamed his team’s lack of ball movement when discussing Strus’s quiet night, saying, “When you really move the ball and you attack, the balls ends up finding itself in good players hands.”
Seton Hall moves to 16-5 on the season and 5-3 in Big East play, earning a much-needed win after having losing 3 of their last 4 games. They will return home Wednesday to take on Providence.
DePaul falls to 9-12 on the season and 2-7 in Big East play. Tre’Darius McCallum led the way with 16 points and 6 rebounds for the Blue Demons, who will go on the road to take on Butler on Saturday.