Pirates backed down in final minutes
The men’s basketball team lost Wednesday night to the Arkansas Razorbacks, 71-62, in the SEC/Big East Invitational in Louisville. The loss dropped the Pirates to 3-4 on the season.
Senior Jamel Jackson and junior Herb Pope both sank three-pointers in final minute of the game, but Arkansas made six free throws, four by freshman Mardracus Wade, to keep the lead out of the Hall’s reach.
Junior guard Jordan Theodore scored a career-high 24 points, along with five assists and four steals. He shot eight of 18 from the floor and made all seven of his free throw attempts.
With 8:28 remaining in the first half, the arena lights went out just as Razorback freshman Ricky Scott was fouled on a made layup.
Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard disputed the made basket with the referees but to no avail, as Scott was awarded the two points and a foul shot, giving Arkansas the 19-11 lead.
The lights would not fully return until the 5:50 mark in the first half, yet the dimly-lit court did not affect the Razorbacks’ scoring. Arkansas took a 29-14 lead after making six of seven shots from the field during the two-and-a-half minute stretch.
Sophomore guard Julysses Nobles came off the bench to lead the Razorbacks with 10 points in the first half, scoring a team-high 19 in the game on seven of 12 shooting from the field.
The Pirates’ defensive plan seemed to revolve around Arkansas leading scorer, junior Rotnei Clarke.
The Hall used the combination of seniors Keon Lawrence and Eniel Polynice, in addition to freshman Fuquan Edwin to contain the Razorback guard, who averages 16.5 points per game on a .420 shooting percentage from behind the arc this season.
Clarke only touched the ball three times in the first seven minutes of the game, missing both of his shot attempts.
His first points came on a three-pointer with just over nine minutes left in the first half, putting the Razorbacks up 17-11 and forcing a Seton Hall timeout.
Clarke finished the night with 11 points, shooting three of seven from three-point range and four of ten from the field.
With 10 minutes left to play in the game, senior Jeff Robinson’s defensive rebound led to an up-and-under fast break layup from sophomore Ferrakohn Hall, cutting the Arkansas lead to three, 45-42.
Just three minutes later, Theodore sank two free throws to give the Pirates the 51-50 lead, their first in the game since the 11:40 mark in the first half.
The Razorbacks went on a 10-0 run from the 6:39 mark to 2:02 left in the game, led by sophomore forward Marshawn Powell’s four points, giving Arkansas the distinct 61-51 lead.
Powell came off the bench and recorded a double-double in the game, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, five coming on the offensive end.
Pope, who sat out the first half due to a coach’s decision, added eight points and nine rebounds from the bench in 18 minutes of second half play.
The Pirates were also outrebounded, 43-33, and were outshot from the field, 43.5 percent to 34.8 percent.
Seton Hall will return to action on Saturday against University of Massachuesetts in Amherst, Mass., at 7 p.m.
Matt Bryant can be reached at email@example.com.