Pirates drop rivalry matchup with Scarlet Knights
After a home upset over No. 8 Georgetown last week that almost certainly gave them enough to make the NCAA tournament, the Seton Hall men’s basketball team put its chances back in doubt on Saturday night, losing to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 77-72, in overtime on Seton Hall senior night.
The Pirates (19-10, 8-9) honored three seniors – Herb Pope, Jordan Theodore and Peter Dill – before the game and head coach Kevin Willard gave Dill the first start of his two-year career as a walk on, however the Hall fell to the Scarlet Knights due to a strong effort from Rutgers junior forward Dane Miller.
Miller finished with a double-double, scoring a season-high 21 points while adding 10 rebounds and four assists.
Freshman guard Eli Carter scored 17 points while sophomore forward Gilvydas Biruta and freshman guard Jerome Seagears added 16 points apiece.
“I feared a lot of things about today,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “Dane Miller and Gilvydas Biruta, more than anything. My fears came true.”
Seagears, who shot 6-of-9 including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, hit the game-winning shot for Rutgers in the dying moments of overtime when he nailed a corner 3-pointer as the shot clock wound down, giving Rutgers the 75-72 lead with just 13 seconds to go.
“This is a hard one, this is tough,” Willard said. “Disappointing on many levels. I give Rutgers a lot of credit, they made big shots and some big plays. If you don’t stop Biruta and Miller, you’re not going to beat them.”
Senior Jordan Theodore struggled offensively, going just 4-of-14 from the field, dropping 17 points and nine assists.
Senior Herb Pope, who finished with 14 points and 12 assists, fouled out with 44 seconds remaining in overtime after Jerome Seagears tripped over Pope’s foot while setting a screen.
“That was just a bad call,” Willard said. “That’s all I’ll say about it.”
Theodore’s nine assists put him at 197 total assists on the season, tying him for the Seton Hall single-season record previously held by Golden Sunkett in the 1962-63 season.
Sophomore Fuquan Edwin also tied a Seton Hall single-season record on Saturday night with his seven steals. Edwin now has 90 steals on the season, tying a record previously held by Paul Gause from the 2006-07 season.
Edwin leads the NCAA in total steals and steals per game, with three. If Edwin finishes the season as the leader in both categories, he would be the first player in Big East history to lead the nation in steals and steals per game in a single season.
In addition to his seven steals, Edwin finished with 13 points and two rebounds.
The Hall shot 45.3 percent (24-of-53) from the field while Rutgers converted 52.7 percent (29-of-55) of their shots.
The loss puts Seton Hall right back on the NCAA tournament bubble, a place that experts assumed the Pirates had left after their resume-building victory over No. 8 Georgetown last week.
According to Theodore, the team has not lost focus and remains hopeful of its chances.
“We’re definitely in the NIT (National Invitation Tournament),” said Theodore, talking about Seton Hall’s current resume. “But we don’t want the NIT. I’ve been there. It sucks.”
Theodore added that the team would love to play in any postseason, however “the NCAA tournament is still the goal.”
Coach Willard did not discuss the Pirates’ tournament chances, but admitted that a home loss certainly hurts their resume, but hurts their psyche even more.
“Obviously, losing at home hurts us,” Willard said. “But we still have another conference game. I’ve got to learn what to do with these off weeks because I don’t think we’ve done a good job as a staff with off weeks.”
About the six days separating Saturday’s Rutgers matchup with next Saturday’s matchup against DePaul, Willard said “it’s going to be a tough six days.”
Saturday night’s attendance sets the record for highest attendance at a Seton Hall game at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. with 10,945.
Seton Hall will be back in action next Saturday when they face the DePaul Blue Demons in the Pirates’ final game of the regular season. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
John Lopiano can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @JohnLopiano.