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Jan. 10, 1998

Wildcats Lose to Seton Hall

Seton Hall bounces back from its worst loss of the year to beat Villanova 67-54

Malik Allen
Malik Allen led Villanova with 10 points before fouling out against Seton Hall.
(File photo)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - After being embarrassed by Rutgers in a 32-point loss earlier in the week, Seton Hall wasn't approaching its game with Villanova like any other.

It was a game the Pirates needed to make a statement - to themselves, the rest of the Big East Conference and anyone else remaining on their schedule.

On Saturday, Villanova and anyone else listening got the message.

Levell Sanders led a 12-0 spurt and Seton Hall bounced back from its worst loss of the year with a game-closing 25-7 spurt that lead it to a 67-54 win over Villanova.

"This was one of those games we had to win," Seton Hall guard Shaheen Holloway said. "That was the bottom line."

"We had to let everyone know we're not going to fold up and go away," he added. "We're going to keep coming back. Stuff like that happens. This is college basketball and this year is crazy."

Seton Hall (8-7, 2-3) is evidence of that. It played an uninspired game in losing to Rutgers 81-49 on Wednesday. Against Villanova (7-6, 4-1), players were diving on the floor for balls, fighting on defense and hustling.

"That (Rutgers) score, to be honest, made me scared," said Villanova coach Steve Lappas, whose team beat Seton Hall earlier this season. "What happens is you come back and everybody's concentration level is a little bit higher when something like that happens. That's what bothered me. I wish they had won the other day."

Donnell Williams led the Pirates with 15 points, while Sanders added 14 despite having to return to the locker room for about three minutes early in the second half to have his left ankle retaped.

Malik Allen led the Wildcats with 10 points before fouling out with four minutes to play. Howard Brown, who had scored in double figures in five of his last six games, had four points on two of nine shooting. John Celestand, who had 19 points in an earlier 72-57 win over the Pirates, finished with eight.

"I don't think it was us taking them lightly," Allen said. "They just came out with more fire than we did. They were coming off a loss - I mean a big loss in terms of point margin - and we didn't come out as intense as they did. They played great pressure defense."

After falling behind 47-42 on a layup by Brian Lynch with 12:24 to play, the Pirates held Villanova to three of 14 shooting from the field the rest of the way and forced seven turnovers.

"The coaching staff had us well prepared," Williams said. "We went over everything Villanova can possibly do and the guys paid attention. That was the difference. The guys focused in on this game."

Sanders had left the court with 16:31 to play to have his left ankle retaped and he returned with 14:17 to go and the Pirates trailing 43-40.

The deficit was five points when Sanders and Duane Jordan combined to scored all the points in Seton Hall's 12-0 run that put it ahead 54-47 with 7:16 to play. Sanders had eight points, capping the spurt with two 3-pointers.

Jermaine Medley broke a 5:30 scoring drought for Villanova by hitting a 3-pointer with 6:54 to play to make it a 54-50 game.

The Wildcats were still within four points with 4:19 to go, but Seton Hall scored the final 11 points, with nine coming from the foul line.

"This game was important for everyone in here just so we believe in each other," Sanders said.

Seton Hall hit 23 of 29 free throw attempts. Villanova was 2 of 5.