CINCINNATI — The road has been a very pleasant place for Seton Hall. And the rowdier the arena, the better.
The Pirates ended another long home-court winning streak in the Big East on Saturday, pulling away to a 68-60 victory over Xavier. Jaren Sina had a four-point play and a 3-pointer down the stretch that snapped the Musketeers’ 13-game winning streak at home.
And it’s not the first time they’ve pulled off a big win on the road.
“I like it better than playing at home,” said Fuquan Edwin, who had a team-high 18 points. “We weren’t thinking about their home streak. We didn’t even know it. We knew they were tough at home though.”
The Pirates (13-9, 4-5) blew open a tight game with a 14-5 spurt that featured nine points by Sina, who finished with 12. Four Pirates finished in double figures, a balance that has led to their best moments.
The Pirates have become adept at winning in tough road arenas. They won 81-80 in double overtime on New Year’s Eve at Providence, ending the Friars’ 13-game home streak. They also beat Georgetown 67-57 on Jan. 18, ending the Hoyas’ 16-game winning streak at home.
Seton Hall is 1-3 at home in the Big East and 3-2 on the road.
“We’re a little more confident on the road,” coach Kevin Willard said. “I think we’re a little more relaxed on the road than at home.”
Xavier (15-6, 5-3) suffered its first loss at the Cintas Center this season. The Musketeers are 185-26 all-time in 14 seasons at the on-campus arena.
Semaj Christon scored 13 of his 21 points in the second half, but was on the bench with his fourth foul as Seton Hall pulled away. Matt Stainbrook had 16 points and 14 rebounds.
“At the end of the day, you usually lose one at home,” said forward Isaiah Philmore, who had eight points. “One slips through the cracks. We’ve got to make sure this is our one.”
Their defense made the difference against Xavier, which was only 2 of 14 from beyond the arc against Seton Hall’s zone defense. The Musketeers also had 13 turnovers that led to 21 of Seton Hall’s points.
“I just felt the team wasn’t ready,” Philmore said. “We were physically ready, but not mentally ready. We were a little bit slow. You could see that at the start of the game.”
Two Xavier turnovers helped the Pirates open with an 8-0 run. Seton Hall made seven of its first 12 shots overall, with back-to-back 3-pointers by Brandon Mobley pushing the lead to 18-9 midway through the half.
Willard got a technical foul for an extended argument over a continuation call. Christon had a pair of driving baskets that gave Xavier its first lead, 23-22, with 4:14 left in the half.
The Musketeers led 28-27 at the break, their best defensive first half in their last seven games. The Pirates went only 3 of 12 from the field over the final 10 minutes of the half.
Edwin had a pair of 3s during a 10-1 run early in the second half that put the Pirates up 37-31. That’s when Christon asserted himself, hitting a pair of driving bank shots, including a scoop shot high off the backboard.
Christon went to the bench with 6:16 left when he fouled Sina on a 3-pointer. Sina completed the four-point play for a 56-51 lead. Sina also hit a 3-pointer from the right corner and made a pair of free throws, extending the lead to 64-55 with 3:30 left.
Xavier never got closer than five points the rest of the way. The Musketeers missed 10 of their 11 shots from beyond the arc in the second half, wasting chances to catch up.
“In the last 2-3 minutes, we took some shots when we needed to get better shots,” coach Chris Mack said. “When you’re behind by five points or seven points, you don’t start swinging for the fences. You go for base hits.”
The Musketeers played their first game without freshman forward Jalen Reynolds, suspended indefinitely while he takes care of off-court responsibilities. Reynolds averages 10 minutes and 2.8 points as a reserve.
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