Seton Hall’s season ends with loss to Massachusetts
Seton Hall’s season has ended with a 77-67 loss to Massachusetts in the second round of the NIT. The Pirates finish the year with a 21-13 record, their first 20 win season since the 2003-04 season.
“It’s disappointing,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “Anytime you play your last game your its disappointing. But I told the guys in the locker room I am extremely proud of what they accomplished this year.
Using an 8-3 run the Pirates led the Minutemen 60-56 with 6:40 remaining, but from that point on Massachusetts outscored the Hall 18-7.
“Every team is going to have their run, it’s just how you respond to it,” Massachusetts sophomore Chaz Williams said. “I think we responded pretty well.”
Junior Terrell Vinson got the run going for the Minutemen with a lay-up while being fouled and making the free throw. After a missed 3-point attempt from freshman Brandon Mobley, Massachusetts’ senior Sean Carter gave the Minutemen the lead for good with a lay-up.
Massachusetts extended their lead to 3 points on two free throws from junior Chaz Williams. The Pirates would not go down as the Hall cut the Minutemen’s lead down to one point twice at 63-62 and 65-64 with 3:31 left.
Down one point, the Pirates held the ball with a chance to take the lead but a turnover from sophomore Fuquan Edwin gave the ball back to Massachusetts.
“I thought the turnover we had, really hurt,” Willard said. “Teams are going to make shots against you late in the game but I thought that turnover really hurt our momentum.”
On the ensuing possession Williams hit a 3-pointer, making the score 68-64 with 2:35 remaining.
“He hit a couple big shots late on us,” Willard said. “He has a great motor and keeps coming at you but he made some great plays.”
After a miss by Edwin on a jumper in the paint, the Minutemen got another 3-pointer, this time from Vision to make it a seven point game. Senior Herb Pope would turn the ball over for the Hall’s third straight empty possession, leaving 1:02 on the clock as freshman Aaron Cosby was forced to foul Williams.
Williams would make the front end of his one-and-one but the second one missed leaving the Pirates down 72-64 with 1:02 to play. Driving to the basket Theodore was fouled on his made lay-up attempt and would convert the three point play.
Williams was once again put on the line in the final minute in the Pirates’ comeback attempt, this time making both shots with :51 remaining. Theodore took a 3-pointer trying to cut the Minutemen’s lead to four but the shot missed and Massachusetts’ sophomore Raphiael Putney pulled down the rebound. Making both his free throws the Minutemen went up nine with 37 seconds left.
After another missed basket, Massachusetts closed out the game with sophomore Jessie Morgan making one of his two free throw attempts. In between shots Willard took Theodore and Pope out of the game so the crowd could recognize the team’s two seniors.
In the final 6:40 the Hall shot just 1-10 from the field and committed four turnovers. For the game the Pirates shot 35 percent and just 5-27 from beyond the arc while Massachusetts shot 47 percent.
Sophomore Fuquan Edwin led all players with 21 points and seven rebounds before fouling out of the game with 37 seconds left.
“Fu’s played great all year,” Willard said. “He had a terrific sophomore season and the fact he led the nation in steals most of the year. (Edwin) had a heck of a sophomore year.”
The two seniors on the Pirates ended their Seton Hall careers with the loss. Pope pulled down 15 rebounds and almost recorded another double-double with nine points. Theodore had 14 points on 5-12 shooting and recorded five assists.
“I think we all came a long way,” Theodore said. “We showed people that Seton Hall is back. Even though me and (Pope) are leaving, we have a lot of great young guys and transfers that came in who are really going to make a name for themselves in this league next year.”
Seton Hall was picked to finish 13th in the Big East Preseason Coaches poll but finished 10th in the league while just missing out on the NCAA Tournament.
“I think we had a terrific season, an absolute terrific season,” Willard said. “We have no juniors, the two seniors and everyone else is a freshman or sophomores. And to win 21 games and the chance to make the NCAA tournament, I thought the season was terrific. I couldn’t be happier with how the season went.”
Stephen Valenti can be reached at Stephen.email@example.com