Playing from behind for the entire game the Seton Hall Pirates lost to No. 1 Syracuse Orange, Wednesday night to open Big East play.
“This Syracuse team is for real,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “They are the best team in the country by far.”
The loss drops the Hall to 11-2 on the season while the Orange improves to 14-0.
All game the Pirates struggled against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone committing 23 turnovers, while also shooting 32 percent from the field. Inside the paint the Hall also could not get anything getting outscored 46-22 and also getting blocked 15 times, including 10 from the Orange’s sophomore Fab Melo.
“We had (15) turnovers at halftime and that can’t happen,” senior Jordan Theodore said. “It was the first Big East game for most of the guys and playing in front of 25,000 isn’t easy.”
Senior Jordan Theodore was the only Pirate to score in double figures collecting 14 points on 6-13 shooting. Fellow senior Herb Pope, leading the Big East in scoring coming into the game, scored only four points while pulling down nine rebounds.
“Herb had his opportunities but he missed them,” Willard said. “They are a hard team to score against inside unless you get offensive rebounds.”
Syracuse was led by sophomore Dion waiters with 15 points followed by Melo who collected a double-double with 12 points and 10 blocks. Senior Kris Joseph who came into the game leading the Orange with 14.5 points per game was held scoreless on 0-6 shooting.
Syracuse got the scoring started two minutes into the game with junior Brandon Triche making a jumper. The Orange extended that lead to 8-1 until Theodore made a jumper to cut the lead.
Pope would cut the Syracuse lead to eight points on a dunk with 6:05 remaining but the Orange responded with a dunk from junior James Southerland to extend their lead back to 10 points, 24-14. From that point on the Orange would not lead by less than 10 points.
The dunk from Southerland also started a 12-1 run by Syracuse to close out the first half, leading 34-15.
To start the second half the Pirates scored four of the first six points before the Orange started a 11-2 run to put them up 47-22 with 15:08 remaining in the game.
Syracuse would take their biggest lead of the game with 5:21 remaining in the game with a dunk from Southerland putting the Orange up 33 points, 68-35.
“We are just going to throw that it away,” Willard said. “These games happen in conference if you don’t play well and the other team lays well.”
The Pirates next return to the court at home against West Virginia on Friday night with tip-off scheduled at 9:00 p.m.
“I refuse to lose that game,” Theodore said. “I refuse to have us come out and play the way we did tonight.”
Stephen Valenti can be reached at email@example.com