Pirates defeat rival Rutgers
In the state’s most intense rivalry, the Hall edged the Scarlet Knights, 59-54, ending their six-game losing streak, at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
The rivalry heightened when a small scuffle broke out that saw the referees and coaches sprint to midcourt with three minutes left.
While referees were reviewing the monitor screens, they assigned technical fouls to senior forward Herb Pope, freshman Brandon Mobley and Rutgers freshman Eli Carter.
Carter and freshman Myles Mack made three of their four technical free throw attempts. On the ensuing possession, junior Dane Miller drained a 3-pointer, giving the Scarlet Knights six straight points and a two-point lead.
While the crowd was still erupting with excitement, the Pirates responded with a 3-pointer of their own from Pope who scored the game-changing basket, igniting the team to finish the game.
“I thought they battled in a tough environment against a very good basketball team,” head coach Kevin Williard said. “I’m just happy that we were able to make some shots to give us a little confidence.”
Holding a 51-50 lead, Rutgers’ sophomore Gilvydas Biruta missed a layup with Pope pulling down the rebound.
With the Hall having possession, Theodore was fouled by Carter to put the senior guard on the line shooting a one-and-one.
Theodore would make both of his shots, extending the Pirates’ lead to 53-50.
As the clock winded down to under a minute to go, freshman Aaron Cosby sunk another three for the Hall as Miller and Carter charged at him defensively, putting the Pirates up five, 56-51.
Cosby’s three forced Rutgers’ head coach Mike Rice to call his team’s fourth timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Scarlet Knights found Mack beyond the arc, but Mack’s shot hit the rim and Mobley pulled down the rebound with 30 seconds left.
With the shot clock turned off, Rutgers fouled Theodore, putting him on the line to shoot another one-and-one. Once again Theodore hit both free throws to give the Hall a 58-51 lead.
Theodore was perfect from the free throw line, until he was fouled once again by Rutgers with less than seven seconds remaining. On the first shot he hit the front of the rim but made the second to give the Hall a 59-54 lead, all but sealing the win over Rutgers.
In the first half, the Scarlet Knights took a two-point lead, 28-26, going into intermission.
As time elapsed in the first, Rutgers scrambled for one last shot, but didn’t make it. However, the Pirates failed to box out sophomore Mike Poole, who was waiting underneath the basket for the put-back that took the lead.
The Hall started the half with an 8-2 run after Pope, who sat out of Saturday’s 69-46 loss at Connecticut with bruised ribs, converted underneath the basket and at the foul line, scoring a 3-point play.
“I was just ready, prepared and hungry,” Pope said.
Theodore finished with a game-high 24 points on 8-for-15 shooting. Pope had 12 points and 12 rebounds for another double-double. Mobley also added 10 rebounds for the Hall.
The Pirates host Pittsburgh at noon on Sunday at the Prudential Center.
Stephen Valenti contributed to the story.
Krissy Wrobel can be reached at email@example.com