Seton Hall survives Stony Brook in NIT opener
Stony Brook’s last second 3-point attempt from senior Bryan Doughter rimmed out and the put back attempt form junior Tommy Brenton rolled around the rim and out as the buzzer sounded to give Seton Hall the 63-61 win over the Seawolves in the opening round of the NIT at Walsh Gymnasium.
“Obliviously we are over the NCAA Tournament,” senior Jordan Theodore said. “We didn’t get picked, it was tough that night but you have to move on. The mentality is to win the championship. We didn’t get into the NCAA Tournament, ok, that’s over but now we are trying to win the NIT. Our goal is to win our next game.”
The victory is the Pirates first in the NIT since Mar. 17, 1956, and improves the Pirates record to 21-12 this season.
The top-seeded Pirates were led by their two seniors, Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope. Theodore recorded 21 points and six assists in the game while Pope added 20 points and nine rebounds.
The two seniors scored the only points for the Hall in the final eight minutes but the 12 points was enough to hold off the Seawolves who were led by senior Dallas Joyner with 14 points and nine rebounds. Dougher, who took the last second 3-point attempt, finished the game with 12 points on 4-13 shooting and 4-12 from beyond the arc.
“They are a different team when (Doughter) doesn’t score,” Willard said. “When he scores and gets a lot of easy shots, they are really tough to beat. We wanted him to work on all of his shots.”
Rebounding was a struggle all game for the Hall as Stony Brook out-rebounded the Pirates 44-23 as a team including a 19-2 advantage on the offensive glass.
“They destroyed us on rebounding,” Willard said. “That was a worry from the start because they are an older veteran team that plays extremely hard.”
Despite the wide rebounding advantage Seton Hall’ defense forced 18 turnovers and limited the Seawolves to 38 percent shooting while the Pirates shot 49 percent and scored 21 points off of turnovers.
“We just came out with a lot of energy,” Theodore said. “We were moving our hands getting the 50-50 balls, and we were just doing the little things it takes to win.”
At the final media timeout of the game, with 3:54 remaining, the Pirates held a 59-53 advantage. Out of the break Stony Brook got a layup from junior Leonard Hayes cutting the lead to four.
Pope responded with a layup on the Hall’s ensuing possession but the Seawolves’ junior Marcus Rouse made a layup while being fouled. Rouse missed his free throw attempt and the score remained 61-57 with 2:03 left in regulation.
Following a missed shot from Joyner, Theodore threw a long pass to Pope on the other end of the court for a breakaway dunk, while also being fouled. Pope missed his free throw but got another chance at the line 10 seconds later after being fouled on the defensive end.
On the line with 1:45 to go and a six point lead, Pope missed both of his free throw attempts leaving the door slightly open for Stony Brook. Senior Danny Carter made a driving layup while being fouled to cut the Pirates lead down to three points with 1:24 remaining.
Trying to run out the clock, Theodore ran down the shot clock to under 10 seconds before taking a jumper from the left elbow that hit front rim, giving Stony Brook the ball with 25 seconds left.
Calling a timeout with 19 seconds to go, Stony Brook ran a play to give their program’s all-time leading scorer the ball but Doughter’s attempt missed along with the put back attempt, giving the Hall the win.
“We knew (Doughter) was getting the ball,” Theodore said. “The gamplan was to just fight through the screen and to contest the shot and Aaron (Cosby) did a great job at doing that.”
The Pirates advance to the second round of the NIT with the win and will play the University of Massachusetts, with the date and time to be announced.
Stephen Valenti can be reached at Stephen.email@example.com