Gibbs, Teague guide Pirates past Rutgers
Sophomore guard Sterling Gibbs compiled a game-high 27 points while senior center Eugene Teague put up 16 points and 16 boards as the Seton Hall men’s basketball team topped Rutgers, 77-71, on Sunday night inside the Rutgers Athletic Center.
For the first time since 1991, the two met in a nonconference matchup, after Rutgers moved to the American Athletic Conference over the offseason while the Pirates stayed put in the Big East. That did not take away from the rivalry.
With just under three minutes to play, Gibbs drove through the lane and dished the ball off to Teague, who hammered in a two-hand slam to put Seton Hall on top, 72-61. But with 2:46 to go, Eddie Jordan’s Scarlet Knights gave their best effort at a comeback.
“We have a tendency to let things that are going bad go really bad on the road,” Pirates head coach Kevin Willard pointed out. “But we kept on stressing the importance of staying tough.”
Junior guard Jerome Seagears drove it down and hit a triple to cut the Pirates’ lead to eight. After a turnover by the Pirates, junior guard Myles Mack pulled up for a three and was fouled by Seton Hall junior forward Brandon Mobley. With three made free throws, Mack made it just a five-point affair with 2:19 to play. On the ensuing possession, freshman guard Jaren Sina pulled up for three, but it rimmed out for Mack to pull down the rebound. Seagears missed on a triple, but senior forward J.J. Moore was there for the Scarlet Knights with a put-back. Rutgers followed with another stop and a dunk from Moore made it a 72-71 game, in favor of the Hall.
“When we needed to make plays tonight, we did. I was so proud of our guys for fighting,” Willard said.
And that was just what the Pirates did from there. Willard showed faith and did not call a timeout, as Gibbs was fouled beginning to dribble it up the floor. He would follow with two made free throws and would make two more down the stretch to seal up the win.
Gibbs scored eight of the first 15 points for SHU, as the Pirates led by as many as seven in the first half. As the first-half buzzer rang, a three-ball from Gibbs flew into the net to put the blue and white up 37-33.
The Hall opened up a 10-point lead just three minutes into the second half after Mobley, who scored 11 points, nailed two free throws. With just over 15 minutes to play, the Pirates took their largest lead of the game, 54-42, after a triple from senior forward Brian Oliver.
The Pirates maintained the lead, as with 5:47 to go junior forward Stephane Manga made his presence felt with a floating lay-in as he was fouled. He completed the three-point play to make it a 64-57 game.
“I thought that Steph [Manga] made the difference in the game tonight,” Willard said. “He didn’t do much in the scoring column, but he gave us 20 minutes.”
With the win, the Pirates snapped a three-game losing streak to Rutgers as the Scarlet Knights dropped to 4-6.
Teague set career high marks in rebounds (16), assists (four), and steals (five). He was given the Joe Calabrese Award, which goes to the MVP of every Seton Hall – Rutgers game.
The Pirates are back in action on Tuesday, Dec. 10 when they host local foe N.J.I.T. at 9 p.m. inside the Prudential Center.
John Fanta can be reached at email@example.com.