Pope triumphs in victory
The Pirates extended their season-long win streak to seven with their 86-68 win over the Massachusetts Minutemen on Monday night at Prudential Center.
Enroute to a double-double, Pope scored 16 points and 10 rebounds in the first half, while finishing the game with 22 points and 15 rebounds.
Earlier in the day, the Big East Conference announced that Pope was named to the Big East Honor Roll.
“When they told me that I had a double-double at halftime, I was like ‘that’s good,'” Pope said.
Head coach Bobby Gonzalez noted that he does not think that Pope has reached his full potential.
“Herb can do more and is better than he has shown,” Gonzalez said. “When he gets challenged against big-timers, he’ll step it up. If he gets 22 (points) and 15 (rebounds) against West Virginia, I’ll be throwing a parade.”
Other than Pope, junior Jeremy Hazell netted 21 points, junior Robert Mitchell finished with 13 points, and sophomore Jordan Theodore scored 12 points.
“This was a must-win for us,” Theodore said. “Our non-conference schedule hasn’t been that good except when we played Cornell. So it was good for us to get this win. And we did it, we did it defense-first. We set the tone.”
Hazell and Pope set the tone for the Pirates on the offensive side of the game.
They scored the team’s first 11 points; Hazell had seven and Pope had four.
Hazell also contributed to the defensive attack by recording three steals in the first half, while Theodore came off the bench with three assists and a steal.
“Jordan is a rocket; he’s a one man fast break,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez has also referred to Theodore as the team’s “spark plug” during earlier press conferences, most notably when senior Eugene Harvey starts the game slow.
Against the Minutemen, Harvey scored just three points in the opening half, and finished with seven points.
However, Harvey recorded seven assists against Massachusettes, after recording 14 assists against Hartford.
Theodore and Harvey played a majority of the game together to stop the potential penetration of the Minutemen guards.
“I love the two guard combo,” Theodore said. “Me and Eugene play very well together on the court. They weren’t able to get into their drive and kick offense.”
The win pushed the Pirates record to 7-0, with three non-conference games coming up prior to the beginning of the Big East season on Dec. 26.
“This is the first time since the 1989 team that Seton Hall went 7-0 to start a season,” Gonzalez said as the final comments of his post game press conference.
On Dec. 4, for the first time in Seton Hall history the basketball team beat their opponent by more than 29 points.
The record was set after an 89-56 defeat of the University of Hartford.
The Hall was led by Theodore with 17 points in the game along with Harvey who posted a double-double with 11 points and 14 assists.
The scoring was spread out with four players scoring in double figures, including Mitchell and Hazell, who both finished with 15 points.
The team’s biggest run of the night occurred right before and after the intermission.
The Pirates scored seven in a row to end the first half and started the second half scoring the first three points.
Five different players scored, with the most dramatic points coming when Jamel Jackson hit a long three pointer as the first half came to a close.
The Pirates return to action on Saturday when they host Virginia Military Institute.
Tim LeCras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephen Valenti can be reached at Stephen.email@example.com.