Seton Hall subdued by UConn in front of a large crowd of Huskies

Too big. Too strong. Too athletic. Too fresh.

The third meeting between Seton Hall and UConn was no contest, nothing like the much closer first two meetings this season.

Upon returning to the Big East Tournament – ​​the real thing with the fans – the third-seeded Huskies looked capable of cutting the nets on Saturday night. They chilled the previously hot Pirates, who entered the night on a six-game winning streak but trailed by double digits for most of the game in a one-sided 62-52 loss. They looked like they were playing in cement against a cooler opponent at times.

“It’s disappointing, but UConn is good,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said.

In front of a sold-out crowd at UConn, Danny Hurley’s team defended and rebounded at an elite level, and took enough shots to advance to Friday night’s semifinals. He will meet No. 2 Villanova in the last drink, after No. 1 Providence took on fourth-seeded Creighton.

UConn methodically built a 14-point lead in the first half, and although it was a seven-point game a few times after the break, Seton Hall never looked able to scare the Huskies (23-8). It was 38-31 in the Under-12 timeout, and the Pirates seemed to have momentum. But coming out of the break, Connecticut had nine straight points, starting with a three-point play from Tyler Polley and ending on two free throws from Tyrese Martin that pushed the lead to 16.

UConn’s Isaiah Whaley looks to move Jared Rhoden in the Seton Hall loss.

Seton Hall had no answers for RJ Cole and Martin, who each scored 17 points, and it got pushed into the paint. Nothing was easy against Hurley’s miserly side, who won the battle on the glass, 46-33, and in the paint, 28-20.

“We just wear teams,” Hurley said. “And eventually we can break a team’s will.”

It certainly didn’t help that the Pirates (21-10) shot just 35% from the field or that senior star Jared Rhoden shot a dismal 2 of 13. Myles Cale was Seton Hall’s best player, scoring a team-high 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and Kadary Richmond, despite a nagging right thumb sprain, added 14. Rhoden couldn’t help them enough. He was stalked by Martin, who managed to keep him out of the paint and limit his open looks.

Kevin Willard
Kevin Willard

“Me coming into that game, it was something that I took personally,” Martin said, referring to the defense of the All-Big East first-team selection.

The only bonus for Seton Hall is that he will now have a well-deserved break from the NCAA Tournament, up to a full week. He lost his bye week in mid-January due to postponed games and was under pressure to finish the regular season strong in order to go dancing. It looked like a tired team on Thursday night.

“I think a few days off for these guys is going to be really beneficial,” Willard said. “That won’t be a bad thing.”

New York Post

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