Late comeback falls short as Pirates lose to Louisville
Down 15 points with 11:26 remaining in the game, the Pirates late comeback effort fell just short as the Hall lost to Louisville 61-55 in the second round of the Big East Championship.
Senior Jordan Theodore led the comeback attempt with 17 points with 12 of those points coming in the final six minutes.
“I think early on in the game they did a good job of pressuring me a lot and wearing me down,” Theodore said. “Towards the end of the game I just didn’t want to lose.”
Senior Herb Pope recorded another double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
As a team the Pirates struggled shooting the ball all game going 17-52 from the floor for 33 percent shooting and 3-19 from beyond the arc for 16 percent. Turnovers also hurt the Hall as Louisville forced 17 Pirate turnovers while the Cardinals only committed nine.
“They’re one of the better defensive teams in the conference,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “We had some really good looks early in the game that I think if we had knocked down we could have loosened it up a little bit. And we didn’t knock them down, and we kind of had a battle from that point on.”
Louisville was led by junior Peyton Siva with 14 points on 6-11 shooting, with senior Kyle Kuric adding 13 despite shooting 4-14.
The Pirates trailed 59-55 with 48 seconds left after Theodore scored back to back baskets on a lay-up and 3-pointer with a Louisville travel in between.
“Though shot, I mean real tough shot, and it speaks to what type of player he is,” Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said. “Great players make great plays, and he did certainly, but our guys made some great plays down the stretch.”
On the Cardinal inbound sophomore Fuquan Ediwn fouled sophomore Russ Smith with 41 seconds left, making one of two shots.
Theodore came back down the court and missed a 3-point attempt but Pope saved the ball from going out of bounds by throwing it back in play giving Theodore another 3-point attempt, missing again.
Smith grabbed the rebound off of the second missed shot and threw the ball past half court to Kuric, who was fouled with 15 seconds to go, making one free throw attempt, giving the Cardinals a 61-55 lead.
On the Pirates ensuing possession, freshman Aaron Cosby took a shot from beyond the arc that hit rim with seven second left and a last second three from Pope also missed to give the Hall the 61-55 defeat.
Despite the score being 23-22 at halftime, Louisville came out of the locker room and quickly went on an 8-2 run in the first four minutes to take the 31-24 lead on a jumper from Kyle Kuric.
The Cardinals continued to extend their lead and at the 13:41 mark Siva stole the ball and went the length of the court for the dunk to give Louisville the 36-26 lead. The Cardinals continued to extend their lead to 15 points, the largest of the game, with sophomore Gorgui Dieng making two free throws with 11:26 remaining.
From that point the Pirates would slowly bring themselves back into the game and cut the Louisville lead to single digits on a pair of free throws from Pope with 7:28 remaining and Theodore made it a five point game with a jumper from just inside the 3-point arc with 5:33 remaining.
With the loss the Pirates will have to wait for their post-season fate to be decided on Sunday, as the Hall sits squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble with a record of 20-12.
“It’s really tough,” Theodore said. “For me and (Pope) at the end of our Seton Hall career, especially just leaving it up to the selection committee on Sunday, we wanted to go out there and just prove a point, and we came up short tonight.”
Stephen Valenti can be reached at Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org