Are we allowed to say the grittier team won? Maybe, maybe not. We are allowed to say a gritty team won, since both teams inside the Wells Fargo Center Saturday afternoon displayed it in large increments.

We’re certainly allowed to say the deeper team won. Seton Hall 70, Villanova 64.

Some observations:

Myles Powell of Seton Hall celebrates as he comes off the court after their victory over Villanova on Feb. 8, 2020 at the Wells Fargo Center.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Myles Powell of Seton Hall celebrates as he comes off the court after their victory over Villanova on Feb. 8, 2020 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Powell is an all-American

He might be national player of the year. Certainly a contender. It wasn’t his afternoon, rarely fully in sync. That didn’t seem to matter when Powell rose for a step-back jumper over Saddiq Bey, his team up four points late. When his feet hit the ground, he was smiling and Seton Hall was up six. There’s nobody in the country you’d rather take that shot.

Yeah, he airballed a three later, late in the shot clock, Collin Gillespie defending. It wasn’t his day. Didn’t matter. Put his 19 points down as hard-earned.

Myles Powell, right, of Seton Hall slips while being gaurded by Justin Moore of Villanova during the 1st half on Feb. 8, 2020 at the Wells Fargo Center.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Myles Powell, right, of Seton Hall slips while being gaurded by Justin Moore of Villanova during the 1st half on Feb. 8, 2020 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Why wasn’t it his afternoon?

Villanova guys all took their turns on Powell. Not just on switches either. If Seton Hall came down court fast, the closest defender started on Powell. No reason to mess up the floor balance to have a designated defender on him.

They all gave Powell enough tough looks that his 3-for-9 first half seemed about right. It wasn’t like Villanova sold out the rest of their principles to switch all their attention to Powell. He didn’t have any assists at the break. Seton Hall had 4 assists to 10 turnovers

Twice in each half, Collin Gillespie took a charge from Powell underneath. Either call could have gone either way.

Seton Hall is far from just the Powell show

The Pirates are mentioned in those Final Four discussions because of their depth backing up their star. Romaro Gill is a scary sight inside, capable of blocking any shot at any time. But when Gill went to the bench, with Powell also on the bench, 6-11 Sandro Mamukelashvili kept the Pirates afloat. He had a tip-in, then he blocked Roboinson’Earl’s shot, then he hit a three, then he had a three-shot personal possession ... miss, miss, make inside. Star of the game, 17 points, 8 rebounds, all crucial, 12 and 6 in the second half.

Sandro Mamukelashvili of Seton Hall celebrates after a basket during their victory over Villanova on Feb. 8, 2020 at the Wells Fargo Center.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Sandro Mamukelashvili of Seton Hall celebrates after a basket during their victory over Villanova on Feb. 8, 2020 at the Wells Fargo Center.

The importance of Collin Gillespie?

Villanova’s point guard took the briefest of breaks in the first half and Seton Hall immediately went zone, seeing if a Gillespie-less lineup could manever through it. They got a shot, but it was a contested missed thre. Gillespie got right back in there. Seton Hall went back to man-to-man.

The difference?

Villanova’s inability to convert late close to the rim. Moore drove and missed. Bey drove and missed. A Robinson-Earl follow-up didn’t fall. Seton Hall took care of business at the foul line to finish things off.

Saddiq Bey, left, of Villanova gos up for a shot against Jared Rhoden of Seton Hall during the 2nd half on Feb. 8, 2020 at the Wells Fargo Center.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Saddiq Bey, left, of Villanova gos up for a shot against Jared Rhoden of Seton Hall during the 2nd half on Feb. 8, 2020 at the Wells Fargo Center.