Seton Hall opens NIT against Stony Brook at Walsh
For the second time in three years the Pirates have advanced to postseason play, and will host Stony Brook in the opening round of the NIT Tuesday.
“Obviously we’re disappointed,” head coach Kevin Willard said about missing the NCAA Tournament. “But we’re still excited to be in the NIT, having a chance to still play basketball. Our ultimate goal was to make the tournament so there is some disappointment there.”
However, when the Hall hosts the Seawolves in the first round the game will not be played at the Prudential Center but at Walsh Gymnasium. The Pirates have not played a game at the on campus arena since Dec. 4, 2000, a 97-87 victory over Norfolk State which saw Eddie Griffin record the only triple-double in program history with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Willard said. “To have an on-campus arena is something I’m really looking forward to. I love Walsh Gym for the history of it, I love talking to the alumni about the great player that played in Walsh Gym. I’m excited about being in Walsh.”
The Hall currently has a 20 game winning streak at Walsh Gymnasium including one of the two games against Stony Brook, resulting in a 70-55 win on Dec. 23, 1999.
Despite the success at the on campus arena, the Pirates have struggled recently in the NIT. The Hall has lost their last 11 games in the tournament with their last victory coming against Marquette, 96-78.
Stony Brook comes into the game against the Hall as the No. 8 seed in the bracket but carry a 22-9 record and a 14-2 conference record. The Seawolves dropped their conference championship game against Vermont, 51-43 to miss out on the Big Dance.
Going into the championship game, Stony Brook had won 13 of 14 games, being led by senior Bryan Dougher. Dougher leads the Seawolves in scoring, averaging 13.2 points per game with sophomore Brian Coley averaging 10.0 points.
Stony Brook hold opponents to 59.9 points per game while also out rebounding their opposition by 7.9 rebounds, despite no player averaging over 8.0 rebounds a game.
The two seniors for the Pirates will also have to overcome the disappointment of missing the NCAA Tournament against the Seawolves.
“My two seniors took it hard, really hard,” Willard said. “It was tough to console them because it was a really emotional time for both of them. They both gave so much to us and have come through so much at this university, having overcome tremendous obstacles.”
Senior Herb Pope will also have a chance at the NIT against after in his first game, a 87-69 loss to Texas Tech, saw Pope get ejected in the first half after delivering to punches to the groin area of a Red Raider.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at Walsh Gymnasium.
Stephen Valenti can be reached at Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org