Rodriguez propels Seton Hall past No. 17 Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With the clock winding down and the score tied, Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard didn’t call a timeout.
He didn’t need to. His team knew he wanted the ball in Desi Rodriguez’s hands and it worked.
Rodriguez scored the final two of his season-high 29 points on a contested bank shot with 7.3 seconds left to lift unranked Seton Hall to a 79-77 win over No. 17 Louisville on Sunday afternoon at the KFC Yum! Center.
“I didn’t want to call timeout and let them set up zone and then switch into man-to-man and us get confused,” Willard said. “I always feel that if you cannot let a team’s defense get set, you have a better chance of getting a shot. Last week against Rhode Island, I didn’t put it in his hands, and I made sure the rest of the year it would get in his hands at the end of the game.”
Rodriguez was the star for the Pirates (7-1). His 29 points came on 12-of-18 shooting with eight rebounds, four steals and two assists in 37 minutes. Seton Hall also got 18 points from Khadeen Carrington and 13 from Myles Powell.
After Rodrgiuez’s final shot, Louisville rushed the ball back up court, but a wide-open, game-winning 3-point attempt by Quentin Snider rimmed out and Seton Hall grabbed the rebound to ice the game.
“I’m thinking, I should have used my timeout to setup my defense,” Willard said with a laugh when asked what crossed his mind as Snider’s shot was in the air.
“It’s the perfect strategy by (Louisville coach) David (Padgett), it really is. A kid makes a tough shot, but then you have a guard like Quentin who can get the ball up the floor in two seconds. He got a wide-open shot, so I think it’s a great philosophy.”
Louisville (4-2) trailed for most of the first half and struggled with 16 turnovers. Deng Adel led the Cardinals with 20 points, Snider had 15 and V.J. King scored 14.
“I just told our players it’s two games in a row now,” Padgett said. “We’ve worked too hard to shoot ourselves in the foot. What I mean by that is, we work on defense, we get a stop, we get a rebound, and we come down and turn the ball over and give it right back to them. ... Sixteen turnovers is too many for us, I think we had 14 the other night. It’s hurting us right now, but we have to just look at the film and correct it. ... We’ve got to turn this around.”
The Cardinals went down early thanks to four turnovers in the first five minutes. The Pirates led from the opening tipoff and were ahead 17-9 midway through the first half. Despite both Louisville big men being in foul trouble — Anas Mahmoud played just four minutes and Ray Spalding played just nine before sitting on the bench with two fouls — the Cardinals battled back to even the score at 32 on a jumper by Snider with 1:53 left.
Louisville grabbed its first lead of the game at 36-34, but the Pirates led 38-37 at halftime behind Rodriguez’s 19 first-half points.
“We started the game just by shooting jump shots without getting the ball in the lane,” Padgett said. “We finally started to get the ball in the lane, get to the rim, and we got better looks. It’s frustrating — we’re playing really hard, our effort is there, we’re just not rewarding ourselves. Now, I’m not taking anything away from Seton Hall, they came in here and played their rear ends off, but we’re hurting ourselves too much.”
Louisville fell behind 45-39 at the 17:13 mark, but the Cardinals scored the next 10 points to take its largest lead of the game. A jumper by Snider and a layup by Adel sparked the run that included a 3-pointer by Dwayne Sutton.
The Cardinals led 59-52 with 11:33 left, but committed six turnovers over the next five minutes as Seton Hall clawed back into the lead 66-63 at the 5:39 mark.
“You have to give them credit, obviously, that’s a top-25 team that came in here and beat us,” Padgett said. “We’ve just got to take better care of the basketball.”
The score was tied three times and Louisville took the lead once, 71-70, over the final five minutes, but the Pirates prevailed on Rodriguez’s game-winner.
“Road wins are really, really important in college basketball,” Willard said. “It helps our RPI so much. Obviously they are an excellent basketball team.”
The Cardinals will take the court again on Wednesday vs. Siena. Seton Hall will host VCU on Saturday at 3 p.m.
NOTES: Desi Rodriguez’s 29 points bested the 27 he scored against Vanderbilt on Nov. 24. ... Seton Hall led for 29:16 while Louisville led for just 8:05. ... Louisville gave up a season-high 40 points in the paint. The Cardinals had just 26 points in the paint. ... Louisville’s Quentin Snider had a season-high 15 points. ... Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado had 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. ... Louisville leads the overall series 13-6 and is now 6-2 vs. Seton Hall in Louisville, 6-4 in New Jersey and 1-0 neutral site. ... Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard was an assistant at Louisville from 2001-2006.