Pirates win round one of battle with Rutgers
Rutgers head coach Fred Hill called it a typical Seton Hall-Rutgers game. That depends on whether or not rivalries like the one up and down the New Jersey Turnpike can be typical.”It’s exactly what he (Hill),” senior John Garcia said. “Battling and down to the wire. In these types of games you can throw out the records.”The Pirates held off a late charge by the Scarlet Knights in the final minutes and an intentional foul call in the final second Tuesday night to close out a 76-70 victory at the Prudential Center. Jeremy Hazell led four Pirates in double-figures with 25 points on 9-22 shooting from the floor.”We took off like a rocket,” sophomore guard Jordan Theodore said. “We were sharing the ball and making plays.”Seton Hall, 16-10 (7-8), staked a lead as high as 18 points in the first half on the strength of 46 percent shooting from the floor. They also closed out the half forcing twelve turnovers to only one of their own, leading 44-29.”I thought we jumped out and played good basketball early,” head coach Bobby Gonzalez said. “We had great energy and we wanted to get off to a great start. We did that.”Rutgers however, who fell to 14-14 (4-11), would not go away quietly. The Scarlet Knights, who were led by 17 points from sophomore guard Mike Rosario, cut the lead to single digits a number of times before getting within four with 2:36 left to play.”Each four minutes you have to win and you’re going to put yourself in a position to win at the end of the game,” Rutgers head coach Fred Hill said. “We did exactly that but we just couldn’t come up with a big shot, a big play, a big tip-in.”Three other Scarlet Knights finished in double-figures with Rosario including reigning 3-time Big East player of the week Dane Miller who finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Eleven of Miller’s points came in the second half. Rounding out the double-figure scorers were senior Hamady N’Diaye and junior Johnathan Mitchell who each recorded double-doubles in points and rebounds.”In a game like this it’s hard to keep a lead for 40 minutes,” Gonzalez said. “To continue to win a game like that and stay ahead by double-figures is just difficult.”With the lead down to four senior Eugene Harvey finished on a tough lay-up from the right side. Next Rutgers possession led to a monster jam from junior Jeff Robinson to push the lead back to eight.”We knew they were going to make a run, and we were ready for it,” Theodore said.Theodore finished with twelve points and six assists without a turnover and Herb Pope put up six points while pulling down twelve rebounds and dishing out three assists in the victory.Meanwhile Harvey, who finished with ten points and four assists in his first game since missing the last two with a wrist injury, played an efficient game from start to finish with ten points, four assists, and two steals played an efficient game from start to finish.”I thought Eugene was terrific,” Gonzalez said. “I said I was going to start him, it’s the last two home games of his career. Some people thought he was the MVP of the game, quietly.”Seton Hall was outrebounded 49-37, but forced 16 turnovers leading to 23 points. The Pirates also dominated the fast break outscoring Rutgers 17-4.Things became even more typical for this heated rivalry at the end of the game when with a win all but assured Herb Pope was called for an intentional foul on a dunk attempt by the Scarlet Knights.”It’s a rival game,” Hill said. “It’s a hard foul it’s no big deal. Just a tough, hard play.”With the crowd already heading for the stairs and .5 seconds added to the previously-expired clock, Miller knocked down two from the charity stripe before and an emphatic block of a Rosario catch-and-shoot by Robinson ended the game, 76-70.Typical Seton Hall-Rutgers play in a rivalry that will continue March 3 at the RAC.Before that however, Seton Hall will look to close out the Prudential Center this season with a win against fellow NCAA bubble team Marquette, 17-9 (8-6). The Pirates have won six straight at home dating back to December 29. Tip-off is set for this Sunday at noon.
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