The men’s basketball team defeated the Caldwell Cougars, 67-49, in an exhibition game on Saturday night at Walsh Gymnasium.
The Pirates were without their senior captain Fuquan Edwin, who was suspended for the game due to violation of team rules, according to head coach Kevin Willard.
“I saw pretty much what I thought I’d see, especially with the fact that Patrik (Auda) hadn’t played, Brandon (Mobley) hadn’t played, Jaren (Sina) hadn’t played, Sterling (Gibbs) hadn’t played, and the only guys who were coming back that got minutes were Eugene (Teague) and Brian (Oliver),” Willard said. “I thought defensively we were much better than I thought we were and offensively we’ll get better.”
The Pirates got off to a fast start offensively in the first half after a couple of Brian Oliver three-pointers stretched an early lead to 13-7. The Cougars battled back midway through the first half and took an 18-17 lead with 5:50 remaining before the break.
Going into halftime, Seton Hall led the Cougars 31-21, a lead they would not relinquish for the remainder of the game.
The game marked the first time the Pirate offense was led by red-shirt sophomore Sterling Gibbs at the point guard position. Gibbs finished with 15 points and four assists. The major storyline from tonight’s game was the return of Auda, who missed most of last season to a broken foot.
“I was a little bit winded but physically I felt pretty good,” Auda said. “My foot was okay, I didn’t have any problems with that, so I should be ready for the upcoming games.”
The Pirates struggled offensively, and Coach Willard admitted after the game that his team needs work moving forward.
“Obviously we need a lot of work but I knew that going in,” Willard said. “I knew that from our scrimmage last Saturday. We didn’t shoot the ball overly well, but it was a matter of having six guys that have never played for you.”
The Pirates swarming defense and improved shooting in the second half was enough to hold off the Cougars. Brian Oliver finished with 12 points, all from three-point field goals; however, he addressed the team’s needs moving forward.
“I think we need to get our continuity down on offense,” Oliver said. “We have to work the ball inside. I think as a team we’ll get that down together.”
The Pirates open up their 2013 regular season campaign against Niagara next Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Prudential Center.
Mike Romano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.