Seton Hall beats Rutgers 72-61
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) It's safe to say that Angel Delgado likes playing against Rutgers.
The Seton Hall junior forward had 19 points and 16 rebounds, both earning Most Valuable Player honors and posting a double-double for a second straight year in the Garden State Hardwood Classic against the cross-state rivals.
Seton Hall beat the Scarlet Knights 72-61 in a highly spirited contest before a sellout crowd Friday night at the Prudential Center.
''We keep showing that we're the best team in New Jersey,'' Delgado said. ''But we have to forget about this game already. We're in the Big East now. We play in the best league in the country and we have to get at it.''
The game has been called the Garden State Hardwood Classic since 2014, but the two rivals have played every year since 1995-96.
The win was the sixth straight for the Pirates (10-2) and snapped a five-game win streak for the Scarlet Knights (11-2).
The game was tied for the eighth and final time at 51-all when Delgado took over with 7:43 left, scoring six during and an 8-2 run.
''I think the team understands his importance and got him the ball,'' Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard said. ''He draws a lot of attention, because he's become a very dominant post player.''
Desi Rodriguez, who added 13 points, had two driving baskets that enabled Seton Hall to grab its biggest lead at 64-55 with 1:58 remaining.
Khadeen Carrington had 20 points and Ishmael Sanogo grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds for the Pirates.
Rutgers led 32-23 at halftime thanks to some fast break offense and excellent free throw shooting (12-of-15).
But Delgado turned the momentum with two quick buckets in the opening minutes of the second half, setting the tone for the remainder of the game.
''We went into halftime and I knew that this team does a good job of listening to me defensively,'' Willard said. ''It was just a matter of them listening to me. We were able to defend, then get out on the break a little. I'm proud of our guys. We kept at it defensively.''
Perhaps the biggest factor to come from Friday's game is the improvement of the Scarlet Knights under new head coach Steve Pikiell. A year ago, Seton Hall hammered Rutgers 84-55.
''We had a chance in this one,'' said Pikiell, the former coach at Stony Brook. ''We have to learn how to finish things up. We didn't execute well down the stretch. But we're going to get there. There are some good signs about us. People have a lot of questions about us and that's fine. We just need to make plays down the stretch.''
As for the rivalry?
''I think people enjoy this game,'' Pikiell said. ''We'll be back. It's a great game. It's great for New Jersey. It's a good competitive game.''
''It's night and day different than last year,'' he said. ''Steve has done a great job. I'm glad I pay taxes to have Steve Pikiell.''
Corey Sanders paced Rutgers with 17 points. Nigel Johnson added 16 in vain.
Seton Hall now leads the series, 39-29, dating back to 1916. The two teams have met every year since 1995. Seton Hall has won the last four meetings between the two.
The game next season will be played at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
Seton Hall, located in South Orange, New Jersey, is 27 miles north of Piscataway, the home of the Scarlet Knights.
This was the sixth straight game that Delgado reached double figures in both points and rebounds. He was coming off a 22-point, 15-rebound effort against Delaware.
Seton Hall travels to Creighton on Wednesday and returns home for Marquette on Jan. 1.
Rutgers heads to Madison to open Big 10 play Tuesday against No. 14 Wisconsin on Tuesday and faces Penn State at home New Year's Day.
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