The Seton Hall Pirates defeated their cross town rival NJIT Highlanders 78-48 on Tuesday night at the Prudential Center.
After struggling in the opening minutes of their previous home games, the Pirates jumped out to an 8-0 lead to open the game.
Senior Herb Pope got the scoring started for the Pirates. After winning the opening tip off, Pope proceeded to sink a right wing three pointer in the first offensive to give the Pirates the early lead.
One minute later, he stole the ball from NJIT guard Chris Flores and scored the easy layup to extend the lead to five.
“What he’s doing now is getting out on the brake,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “He’s getting eight easy points on the break. He’s getting an off rebound for a put back. He’s shoot free throws really well. He’s playing at a high level and everyone’s feeding off of him.”
On the next offensive possession, freshman Aaron Cosby hit a corner three pointer to put the Pirates up eight with 18 minutes remaining in the half.
The Highlanders kept the game close by scoring on two straight possessions. Flores hit all three free throws following a Cosby foul and then center Kherel Silcott dunked over Pope.
NJIT kept the game within four points for the rest of the first half and had a three point lead during the frame, when senior forward Isaiah Wilkerson had a put back layup off his own miss then a layup off a missed shot by Cosby.
“I thought they outplayed us in the first half,” Willard said. “Our interior defense was extremely pours. We were doing too much leaning to one end and didn’t finish off the defensive play.”
The high intensity first half proved to be too much for NJIT. In the second half, the Highlanders scored just 16 points on 16 percent shooting, while the Pirates were able to put 44 points on the board.
During the second half, the Hall went on a 16-0 run led by led by Pope who had eight points during the stretch. The run ended following Pope’s eighth point when he was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim.
“(Referee Gene Steratore) said he pulled up on the rim, which he did,” Willard said. “You can’t pull up on the rim. It was the correct call.”
On the next sequence, senior Jordan Theodore hit the floor grasping his ankle after stepping on the foot on one of the Highlander players, but returned to the floor a few minutes later.
Theodore had 11points and 11 assists in the game, his third straight game with double digit assists,
Pope finished with 25 points and six rebounds, while sophomore Patrik Auda added 11 points.
The Pirates return to the floor on Saturday to host Wake Forest. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.