PHILADELPHIA — There was a loose ball that led to a 3-pointer by Villanova’s Chris Arcidiacono 3-pointer. There were two missed offensive rebounds on the final possession.
If the ball had bounced Seton Hall’s way in any of those instances, maybe the Pirates would have beaten No. 15 Villanova for their fourth straight victory. Instead, they couldn’t come up with the clutch rebound, and they headed home on the short end of a frustrating 73-67 loss to the in front of 17,803 at Wells Fargo Center.
Brandon Slater’s layup with 1:27 left gave Villanova the lead for good. The Pirates’ Kadary Richmond, so good for most of the afternoon, missed a 3-pointer that could’ve given Seton Hall the lead, then turned the ball over in the final seconds as his team tried to rally.
But the game was really lost when Seton Hall got two stops, but couldn’t get an offensive rebound, and had to send Justin Moore to the free-throw line. He hit both attempts with 16.5 seconds left to push the Wildcats’ lead to four.
It was a valiant effort by Seton Hall, which held the lead with just over three minutes to go. Richmond put forth one of his best games of the season, notching 16 points and five assists. Tray Jackson also had 16 points and Alexis Yetna added six points and 15 rebounds. Moore and Jermaine Samuels each scored 16 for Villanova.
Early in the second half, Villanova reeled off a 10-2 run to turn a four-point deficit into its largest lead of the game to that point at 45-41.
The run was aided by a technical foul on the Seton Hall bench. The Pirates felt Samuels had been in the lane for well over three seconds, leading to a Caleb Daniels 3-pointer. Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard called a timeout to settle his team down, and they responded with 11 straight points to go back ahead 52-45 on a deep Jamir Harris 3-pointer with 10:58 left.
It was then Villanova coach Jay Wright’s turn to flip the momentum with a timeout. The Wildcats reclaimed the lead on Samuels’ three-point play with 7:18 to go, capping a 9-0 burst. And when Arcidiacono hit a 3-pointer off a scramble, the Wildcats had their biggest lead (62-57) with 4:32 left, setting the stage for a dramatic finish in which the lead changed five times in the final five minutes.
Richmond was the best player over the first 20 minutes, leading Seton Hall with 11 points and two assists. He carved up Villaniova’s defense from deep, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, and got into the lane to create openings.
As a team, Seton Hall started red-hot from 3-point land, hitting six of its first nine attempts en route to an early 21-15 edge. The Wildcats answered with a 12-3 spurt behind seven points from Samuels, and Seton Hall led 32-29 at the break.
The margin would’ve been wider had the Pirates taken care of the ball better. Their nine mostly unforced turnovers, leading to 14 Villanova points, lessened their edge from beyond the 3-point line. The Wildcats went just 3-for-12 from deep and shot only 38 percent from the field overall.