EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez and Angel Delgado came back for their senior seasons at Seton Hall looking to make a run at the Big East title, and they’re not letting anything get in their way.
Down 13 points early in the second half to No. 25 Creighton? No sweat. Down a point late with Delgado heading to the bench with five fouls? No problem.
All they had to do was find a way to win, and that’s exactly what the 23rd-ranked Pirates (12-2, 1-0) did.
Carrington hit a go-ahead layup with 2:05 to play and Seton Hall held Creighton scoreless for the final 3:32 in posting a 90-84 victory in the Big East Conference opener for both schools on Thursday night.
“We know how good this league is,” said Rodriguez, who scored 14 of 23 points in the second half. “It is arguably the No. 1 conference in the country. This was a statement win. I think we needed this win to get back to playing good basketball. I saw a lot of good basketball in the second half and I was proud of my guys.”
Carrington finished with 18 points, Delgado added 18 points and 14 rebounds and Myles Powell had 17.
“This is a great win,” said Delgado, who walked off the court after fouling out and told his teammates they were not going to lose. “It’s one of the best wins of the whole year because Creighton is a heck of a team. They play hard. They have great players. I think that team is going to go far but, wins like this are the wins that we need. We have to protect our home.”
Martin Krampelj had a career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds for Creighton (10-3, 0-1), which had a five-game winning streak snapped. Marcus Foster, who hurt his right knee early, finished with 14, but only two in the second half. Khyri Thomas had 13 for the Bluejays; one of Creighton’s three losses was earlier this month at Gonzaga.
Foster said his knee bothered him at halftime but he gutted it out. The senior was more frustrated that the Bluejays lost to another ranked team after leading at the half. They led No. 18 Baylor and No. 20 Gonzaga in their other two losses.
“We always talk about wanting to be a great team,” said Foster, who will have his knee looked at again on Friday. “In order to be a great team we are going to have to get over these little humps. We are going to have to figure out how to beat these teams. We have to learn from it. We’ve been saying this all year. We can’t keep learning from it. We have to figure it out and get it done.”
Foster gave Creighton its final lead at 84-83 with a jumper with 3:32 to play.
Carrington hit his layup off a baseline drive more than a minute later to put the Pirates ahead.
“We were down basically the whole game but we knew we had enough to come back,” Carrington said. “We don’t ever want to play comeback basketball but tonight we had to and we did a good job of handling it.”
Michael Nzei, who also had 14 rebounds, added a free throw with 1:29 to go to make it a two-point game and Carrington added two free throws with 19.5 seconds left to extend the lead to four points.
Rodriguez closed out the scoring with two free throws with 12 seconds to go.
The Hall outscored Creighton 48-31 in the second half, hitting 16 of 30 shots from the field.
Creighton shot 54 percent in the first half in taking a 53-42 lead with the last two points coming on a length of the court drive and layup by Foster at the buzzer.
The Bluejays extended the lead to 13 points early in the second half before Seton Hall came roaring back with a 17-5 spurt, cutting the lead to 63-62 on a layup by Rodriguez with 13:35 to play.
Creighton re-opened the lead to 71-63 with an 8-1 run that featured two dunks by Krampelj.
However, Seton Hall would not be denied in winning its first home game against a fellow Top 25 team since 2001.
Creighton: Despite losing, Creighton is going to be an outstanding team. They have a talented starting five and freshman guard Ty-Shon Alexander (nine points) is going to be good. The Bluejays might have won had they not had an off night from long range, hitting 5 of 25.
Seton Hall: When Delgado dominates down low, Seton Hall is hard to beat. Creighton had no one who could match up with him. Toby Hegner fouled out and Krampelj finished with four fouls. The Pirates also have depth at the power forward with Nzei and Ismael Sanogo back from a suspension.
Creighton: hosts Providence on Sunday.
Seton Hall: hosts St. John’s on Sunday.
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