PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/4/2018 – The #1 Villanova Wildcats were facing an familiar opponent. Another Big East heavyweight in the Seton Hall Pirates. It was a game where there is a need to get down into the weeds. It is only fitting that the big men battle it out, and Villanova was led by forward Omari Spellman who scored 26 points. It took some time for the Wildcats to impose their will, but did taking a 92 – 76 decision over the Pirates.
Spellman had a big assignment facing Pirates center Angel Delgado. That assignment had to be on both ends of the floor, and Spellman responded. On offense he set a career-mark in made three-pointers with 6 and took down 11 rebounds, one shy of his best, and had 3 blocked shots. He did it more with the intangibles.
“Delgado is one of the smartest big men in the country, so when you go against a young guy anxious to play you, you can take advantage of the inexperience,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “Omari played like a veteran, stayed on his feet and didn’t foul him. He played intelligently.”
Delgado had 18 points for Seton Hall and grabbed 9 boards, but did not get to the foul line.
“I just wanted to play as hard as I could for my teammates and get our team a win,” Spellman said.
The game had all of the earmarks of a highly contested affair, and the game lived up to that expectation. Villanova got some breathing room when forward Eric Paschall and Mikal Bridges made plays around the basket to take a 55 – 50 lead. Seton Hall got back to within two on consecutive three-pointers by Myles Powell, who scored 17 points, at 62 – 60 with 9:44 to play. Then Nova got the decisive run. The lead grew to double-digits behind a pair of three-pointers by Spellman and buckets by Bridges.
The Hall stayed in touch trailing 74 – 67 with just over 6 minutes to play. The Cats got the knockout run of 16 – 2 in under 4 minutes taking a 90 – 69 lead with 2:22 showing on the clock. The final score was not indicative of how hotly contested this was as a game. Both teams made half their shots and more.
“Four of his threes were contested but when a guy makes shots like that you are going to have a hard time beating him,” said Seton Hall Coach Kevin Willard. “Spellman got it going offensively and you have to give him credit. Any time a guy goes off like that you are going to have a long night. “
Jalen Brunson added 21 points and 6 assists for Villanova. Fellow backcourt mate Donte DiVincenzo added 13 points and set a new career-high with 7 assists. Bridges finished with 17 points and 4 rebounds. Spellman recorded his 6th double double of the season.
“When we recruited (Spellman) he was a perimeter player,” Wright said. “He grew into a big, strong rebounder and post player. This is natural for him to be on the perimeter handling the ball, and it gives him a quicker path to being a complete player.”
“He’s doing a great job of expanding all the things he can do,” said Brunson. “He doesn’t care about the stats or the spotlight he’s just playing as hard as he can for us.”
Desi Rodriguez headed Seton Hall (17 – 6, 6 – 4) with 20 points and added 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Khadeen Carrington had foul trouble throughout the game and finished with 10 points and 4 assists for the Hall.
Villanova improves to 22 – 1, 9 – 1 in conference. They have two more games in this home stand facing St. John’s and Butler next week.
In case anyone is interested, Jay Wright predicts a 27 – 24 Eagles victory later this evening.
Written By: Glenn Papazian