Pirates cruise to victory over No. 8 Huskies
The Seton Hall men’s basketball team led the No. 8 Connecticut Huskies at halftime and never looked back, defeating the Huskies 75-63 to earn their second Big East victory of the season.
The win marks the first time in the last 11 tries that Seton Hall has defeated Connecticut.
Connecticut (12-2, 2-1) jumped out to an early 11-2 lead within the first five minutes of the game, however Seton Hall (13-2, 2-1) went on a commanding 33-11 run to finish the first half with a 13 point lead.
The Pirates were led by senior guard Jordan Theodore who finished with 19 points, 11 assists, and three steals. Theodore had no points in the first half, but did dish out eight of his 11 assists and had no turnovers. In the second half, he hit four shots, including three from beyond the arc.
According to Theodore, the win is a reminder that things are getting better at the South Orange, N.J. campus.
“It just felt so great that the crowd came out and embraced me and my teammates,” Theodore said. “I’ve been through the tough times here. The rough times are over though, man. I’m just glad that we are able to give these fans something to cheer about.”
Senior forward Herb Pope had 15 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks. Pope’s performance comes just a day after Connecticut freshman Andre Drummond told a reporter he had never heard of Herb Pope, however Pope said that the comments meant nothing to him.
“Coach repeated to us, “we don’t let anyone talk about our guys, we stick together” right before the game,” Pope said. “But we chatted during the game and I told [Drummond] he has to watch what he says sometimes because he’s a young guy and he’s got to learn how to handle the media.”
Sophomore forward Fuquan Edwin played a role in the victory as well, recording the first double-double of his career, netting 12 points and grabbing 11 boards.
The Pirates were also much more consistent at the free throw line against the Huskies, finishing 11-of-12 from the stripe, eight of which belonged to Theodore.
On a night where sophomore Patrik Auda struggled to score, finishing with just four points, freshman forward Brandon Mobley was a major spark off the bench for the Pirates.
Mobley scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds in 20 minutes of action, also using his long reach to block a 3-point attempt from Connecticut sophomore Jeremy Lamb midway through the second half.
“I had a talk with [Herb Pope] before the game and he told me not to worry about messing up because I’m still adjusting to the game,” Mobley said. “Being able to say I contributed to this win though, and not just sit on the bench watching it, that just feels amazing.”
Mobley also noted how proud he was of the team’s 2-3 zone in the victory, especially the way the Pirates were able to use strength and athleticism to make up for the size difference in the low post.
“Coach always says not to let our defense dictate our offense,” Mobley said. “We do the simple stuff like getting a stop and a rebound, then getting out and going. We did a great job on that end.”
Connecticut, a team that averages 13.8 turnovers a game coming into the night, turned the ball over 14 times, 13 of which came in the first half.
For the Huskies, Jeremy Lamb led the way with 19 points, going 4-of-10 from deep and 7-of-14 from the field overall.
Andre Drummond, coming into the night one of the top shot blockers in the nation, finished with four blocks to go along with his four points and five rebounds.
The major story of the night was Seton Hall’s ability to shoot the deep ball, as they shot 10-of-20 from beyond the arc. Midway through the second half, the Hall hit five 3-pointers in a row: two from Theodore, two from freshman Aaron Cosby, and one from freshman Freddie Wilson.
Cosby went 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, finishing with 12 points and three assists.
According to head coach Kevin Willard, the Pirates found a good luck charm in professional football player and New Jersey native Victor Cruz of the New York Giants, who was in attendance and visited the team in the locker room after the game.
“We had Victor Cruz in the locker room,” Willard joked. “Everyone said I should be happy about this [victory], but I just met Victor Cruz. I asked if he wanted to do the press conference because you guys would be much happier talking to him than me.”
Willard noted how impressed he was with the team’s defense, but specifically named Fuquan Edwin as a bright spot for the squad. Coming into the night, Edwin led the nation in steals and finished his night against Connecticut with two.
Seton Hall held an advantage in the paint, outscoring Connecticut 28-20, and held the Huskies to just two fast break points all night.
The Pirates next test comes on the road against the Providence Friars on Saturday night. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.