The Seton Hall men’s basketball team fell at home to in state rival Rutgers 66-60. The loss drops the Pirates record to 8-12 and 2-6 in the Big East.
“I’m disappointed in myself,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “I’m not disappointed in them. These kids play very hard. I’ve done a very bad job with them.”
Senior Herb Pope led the Pirates with 15 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks with senior Jeff Robinson adding 12 points and eight rebounds.
Rutgers’ sophomore Dane Miller led all scorers with 17 points on 7-13 shooting from the floor.
Rutgers started the game strong by jumping out to an early 17-8 lead capped by a Miller offensive rebound and put back. Rutgers extended the lead to 21-10 after a Jonathon Mitchell tip in prompting Willard to use his second time out in under three minutes.
“We thought we could come here at home and roll over them today,” senior guard Jeremy Hazell said. “They punched us in the mouth first.”
Seton Hall came back with a run of its own ending with a Robinson three pointer assisted by Pope bringing the score to 21-15
The Scarlet Knights answered the Pirates by building their biggest lead of the game, 14 points, 29-18 with three minutes left in the first half.
Seton Hall cut the lead to single digits, 31-23, at the end of the half after a three pointer from senior Jeremy Hazell assisted by senior Keon Lawrence.
Seton Hall shot the ball poorly in the first half, just 32 percent compared to Rutgers 46.7 percent. Seton Hall was also out rebounded in the first half 22-11. The Pirates gave up eight offensive rebounds in the first half which led to 10 second chance points by Rutgers.
“It’s a very tough pill to swallow losing to Rutgers,” Hazell said. “They just came out with more fire. They were a better team today.”
Both teams went back and forth making baskets to start the second half.
Seton Hall chipped away at the lead cutting it down to five at 41-36 with 12 minutes left in the game after Pope slammed home a missed layup.
Rutgers extended their lead back to seven before junior Jordan Theodore hit a three pointer to cut the lead to 45-41 with over seven minutes left in the game.
The Scarlet Knights took over the next three minutes extending the lead back to double digits after a three pointer from James Beatty gave Rutgers a 56-46 advantage.
Seton Hall fouled Rutgers in the last two minutes of the game to extend the game and give them a chance to squeak out a victory.
Rutgers shot 13-27 from the free throw line, giving the Pirates room to make a comeback.
Seton Hall battled back to within four, 62-58, after Robinson assisted on freshman Fuquan Edwin’s three pointer with under a minute left in the game.
Seton Hall would not get any closer the rest of the game, giving Rutgers their 10th Big East road victory in the past 10 years, two of which coming at the Prudential Center.
Hazell had just 15 points on 6-21 shooting from the field.
“(At halftime) Dane said we’re going to win on the defensive end,” Rutgers Head Coach Mike Rice said.
Seton Hall shot 33.8 percent from the field for the game compared to Rutgers’ 47.2 percent and was also out rebounded 44-38 despite winning the battle on the offensive glass, 15-12.
“This is just a bad team right now,” Theodore said. “Things we shouldn’t be doing, we are, and things we need to do, we aren’t.”
Seton Hall scored 17 points on the fast break, while Rutgers only managed six.
“He (Willard) can show us the answer to the test but we still need to take the test,” Pope said.
Colin Rajala can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.