Pirates get first Big East win over Bearcats
To halt a four game losing streak, the Pirates beat the Cincinnati Bearcats 83-76 to secure their first Big East victory of the season. The win, gives the Hall double digit in wins with ten giving them an overall record of 10-5 and 1-3 in the Big East
“We came together,” said sophomore Jordan Theodore. “We grinded out and fought for the win.”
The win was in large part of both the defensive effort and the free throw shooting. The defense, lead by sophomore Jordan Theodore and senior Eugene Harvey, forced the Bearcats to turn the ball over 18 times, 10 of which came from Pirate steals. The pressure also started the run midway through the first half that gave the Pirates the lead for good with 4:59 remaining in the half.
“With Jordan [Theodore] and Eugene [Harvey] we just got the right team in there,” Gonzalez said. “That stretch was probably our best 20 minutes of team defense on the year.”
The Pirates came into the game struggling from the free throw line, shooting 63 percent. Against the Bearcats however, the Hall went 21-24 from the line for 88 percent. No Pirate who took a free throw missed more than one with junior Jeremy Hazell leading the team with eight.
All ten Pirates who entered the game put points up for the Hall, and for the second consecutive game the Pirates as a team shot better than 50 percent from the field. Leading all scorers, on both teams, was Hazell who scored 33 points while going 10-22 from the field and 5-10 from three.
“I wanted to come out here and take open shots, shots my team needed me to take,” said Hazell. “I didn’t want to force a lot of shots.”
Sophomore Herb Pope was the only other Pirate in double figures scoring with 14.
To begin the game Pope would make the opening basket only to have Cincinnati’s Deonta Vaughn make a three starting a Bearcats run. Cincinnati would extend their lead to 12 on that run, holding the 26-14 lead going into the second media timeout with 11:13 left in the first half.
“Normally were up, giving up the big lad,” Pope said. “So this time it was alright playing from behind.”
After the timeout Seton Hall would control the rest of the half, holding the Bearcats to only four points in the remaining 11 minutes of the half. With the defense shutting down Cincinnati, the Pirates took advantage with senior John Garcia starting the comeback with a short jumper.
For the next five minutes the Hall would slowly get back in the game until junior Robert Mitchell capped the comeback with two free throws that tied the game then gave the Hall the 27-26 lead. Cincinnati would respond with a basket of their own, then Pope made two free throws that gave the Pirates the lead for good.
The Pirates went into the locker room at half on a 25-4 run in the last 11 minutes giving them the 39-30 lead.
“I didn’t even realize how much we scored,” Pope said. “We were just thinking stop, stop, that was the difference maker.”
The start of the second half was more of the same with the Hall extending their lead to 14 in the first 3:30 half. From there, the Pirates held a comfortable lead for most of the remaining time extending their lead to 15 with eight minutes left in the game.
The Bearcats would slowly mount their own comeback near to close the game. By forcing four turnovers and by holding the Pirates to two field goals, the Bearcats cut the lead down to four after a three from Vaughn.
With the four point lead, Pope went to the free throw line where he was shooting 38 percent on the year. Facing a one and one Pope made both free throws giving him four on the game for 4-5 shooting.
“Finally made me realize I was just rushing everything,” said Pope about his free throws. “I was just in a funk.”
Junior Jeff Robinson would add five more free throws on the game giving him seven points, to secure the 83-76 victory for the Pirates first Big East win.
“We’ve been in those situations in the last minutes and haven’t pulled it out,” Gonzalez said. “Tonight we pulled it out so it was very good for us. [The game] wasn’t life or death, it was important.”
The Hall returns to action on the road against the Georgetown Hoyas, who are currently ranked 12 in the nation, on Jan. 24 at 2 p.m.
Stephen Valenti can be reached at Stephen.email@example.com.