When Kevin Willard first unveiled his new look Pirates, it was unclear who was going to get the ball in the final seconds of the game where a few free throws are going to be made.
With 17 seconds left in a two-point game, it was a freshman, Jaren Sina, who got the call. Seton Hall won the game 78-76 marking their second win in just as many games.
Sterling Gibbs led the scoring for Seton Hall with 20 and was one of four players with double digit point totals.
“We’re going to get used to the rules and we’re going to still keep attacking other teams but at the same time we need to get stops,” Willard said.
In total, the Pirates went to the line 43 times, making 32 of those attempts.
Seton Hall is going to have to rely on sharp shooting from the line, after having a performance from the floor that disappointed their coach.
“I don’t think we’re shooting the basketball nearly as good as we are capable of shooting it.” Willard said.
“Brandon (Mobley) needs to get his legs under him. Sterling (Gibbs) is one of our better shooters.”
The redshirt sophomore Gibbs had a positive outlook on his team’s performance from the floor.
“We’re a great shooting team it’s just a matter of not getting our shots, Gibbs said.
“No one is going to stop shooting. We’re going to keep taking shots and make sure we get others shots too.”
In the first half, both teams were able to hang around with each other thanks to mistakes they made.
Seton Hall committed nine turnovers in the first half and Kent State fouled the Pirates 17 times. The Hall took advantage of the early fouls and went to the line 21 times and took 16 of the free points.
Senior small forward Fuquan Edwin heated up in the first half, going 4-7 from the floor while draining 3 of his 4 three-point attempts.
The Pirates took their largest lead of the game, 31-18, with 5:48 remaining in the first half on an Edwin three-pointer.
The second half became the Kris Brewer show.
The Kent State junior scored 15 of his 28 points in the second half and forced the game to be decided in the final seconds.
Turnovers plagued both teams late in the game as the Golden Flashes stayed in game.
“That’s a good basketball team. We knew that if we gave up three’s then we were going to struggle.”
Willard said, “Our second half defense really needs to improve.”
The Pirates outrebounded Kent State 36-22 thanks in part to strong play down low from players like senior Patrik Auda.
“Patrik (Auda) is playing great. It’s kind of how we started last year, so it’s great to have him out there.” Willard said.
“He’s playing with confidence and doing a lot of good things. This is the player that I always envisioned.”
Auda finished the game with 15 points and four rebounds.
Redshirt senior center Eugene Teague grabbed down nine boards and added four points for the Pirates.
“He’s a presence inside. We have to get him the ball off pick and rolls and of off some rotations,” Willard said.
“It’s frustrating for him. I’d like him to get 10 or 11 shots even.”
The Pirates play their next game Saturday on the road against Mercer at 3 p.m.
Mike Romano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.