An offensive surge to start the second half pushed the Seton Hall men’s basketball team to an easy victory over Newark-rival NJIT tonight, 68-45.
The Pirates (6-4) led the Highlanders (2-6) 32-24 heading into halftime before beginning the second half on a 13-0 run that included a pair of three point field goals from senior Jamel Jackson. The run was capped by a steal and lay-up from freshman Fuquan Edwin.
“I think Fuquan is playing with unbelievable energy and passion,” head coach Kevin Willard said.
Edwin led all scorers with 14 points on 6-10 shooting to go along with nine rebounds. He is averaging 15.5 points and nine rebounds per game in the Pirates’ last two contests.
“Coach talked to me about being fast,” Edwin said. “He said I need to slow down and mature my game.”
Junior guard Jordan Theodore had six points and 10 assists and sophomore forward Ferrakohn Hall finished with eight points and four rebounds starting in place of junior Herb Pope. Pope missed the game with a left foot injury.
Willard said both x-rays and MRIs came back negative on Pope’s foot. He could not say postgame whether or not Pope would be able to play Wednesday night against Dayton but said that if he could not practice beforehand, he would not play.
Isaiah Wilkerson and P.J. Miller paced the Highlanders with 10 points apiece. As a team, NJIT shot 17-56 for 37 percent shooting. The Pirates outscored the Highlanders 34-20 in the paint, 21-10 off of turnovers and 15-4 on the fast break. The Pirate bench also finished with a 21-7 advantage.
The Hall shot 26-52 of which 19 field goals were assisted. Theodore accounted for over half the assists on the night and his play has picked up in recent weeks, as evidenced by the Big East Weekly Honor Roll he received last week.
“In order for us to win games I’m going to have to play well every night,” Theodore said.
Despite shooting 50 percent from the floor overall, Seton Hall managed only 31.8 percent from beyond the arc as the team continues to fire from the outside in the absence of Jeremy Hazell. Despite the long-range struggles, Willard was happy with the performance overall.
“Everyone’s a good shooter but no one’s a guy that can knock down what Hazy did,” Willard said. “I thought everyone was really playing well. I was happy at the end of the first half even only being up eight.”
The win for the Pirates keeps them undefeated at home and was the third straight victory overall heading into a tough pair of games against Atlantic 10 foes. The Hall hosts an NCAA tournament team from a year ago in Richmond on December 26. Up first though is defending NIT Champion Dayton on December 22 at the Prudential Center.
With the Big East schedule looming large, the Pirates are not looking past the quality opponents in the week ahead.
“My focus is on Dayton this Wednesday,” Theodore said.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Zack Cziryak can be reached at email@example.com.