Taking care of Jersey business
The Pirates held off a late charge by the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the final minutes and an intentional foul call in the final second Tuesday night to close out a 76-70 victory at the Prudential Center.Junior guard Jeremy Hazell led four Pirates in double-figures with 25 points on 9-22 shooting from the floor. Rutgers head coach Fred Hill called it a typical Seton Hall-Rutgers game. “It’s exactly what he (Hill) said,” senior center John Garcia said. “Battling and down to the wire. In these types of games you can throw out the records.” Seton Hall (16-10, 7-8), staked a lead as high as 18 points in the first half on the strength of 46 percent shooting from the floor. They also closed out the half forcing twelve turnovers to only one of their own, leading 44-29 at the break. “I thought we jumped out and played good basketball early,” head coach Bobby Gonzalez said. “We had great energy and we wanted to get off to a great start. We did that.” Rutgers (14-14, 4-11)would not go away quietly. The Scarlet Knights, who were led by 17 points from sophomore guard Mike Rosario, cut the lead to single digits a number of times before getting within four with 2:36 left to play. “Each four minutes you have to win and you’re going to put yourself in a position to win at the end of the game,” Rutgers head coach Fred Hill said. “We did exactly that but we just couldn’t come up with a big shot, a big play, a big tip-in.” Three other Scarlet Knights finished in double-figures with Rosario including reigning three-time Big East Rookie of the Week Dane Miller who finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Eleven of Miller’s points came in the second half. Rounding out the double-figure scorers were senior Hamady N’Diaye and junior Johnathan Mitchell who each recorded double-doubles in points and rebounds.”In a game like this it’s hard to keep a lead for 40 minutes,” Gonzalez said. “To continue to win a game like that and stay ahead by double-figures is just difficult.” With the lead down to four, senior guard Eugene Harvey finished on a tough lay-up from the right side. The next Rutgers possession led to a Harvey steal and an ensuing slam dunk from junior Jeff Robinson.”We knew they were going to make a run, and we were ready for it,” sophomore guard Jordan Theodore said. Theodore finished with 12 points and six assists without a turnover and sophomore forward Herb Pope put up six points while pulling down 12 rebounds and dishing out three assists in the victory. Meanwhile Harvey, who finished with 10 points and four assists in his first game since missing the last two with a wrist injury, played an efficient game from start to finish with 10 points, four assists and two steals.”I thought Eugene was terrific,” Gonzalez said. “I said I was going to start him, it’s the last two home games of his career. Some people thought he was the MVP of the game, quietly.”Seton Hall was outrebounded 49-37, but forced 16 turnovers leading to 23 points. The Pirates also dominated the fast break, outscoring Rutgers 17-4. Things became even more typical for this heated rivalry at the end of the game when with a win all but assured, Pope was called for an intentional foul on a dunk attempt by the Scarlet Knights. “It’s a rival game,” Hill said. “It’s a hard foul, it’s no big deal. Just a tough, hard play.” With the crowd already heading for the stairs and just .5 seconds added to the previously-expired clock, Miller knocked down two from the free-throw line before an emphatic block of a Rosario catch-and-shoot by Robinson ended the game, 76-70. The ending to the game was typical for a Seton Hall/Rutgers game. In the last 10 matchups, only two games have been decided by 10 or more points. On Feb. 20, the Pirates fell to the No. 8 West Virginia Mountaineers, 75-63.This is the Hall’s second loss to the Mountaineers this season after losing 90-86 to West Virginia in overtime during the team’s first match up this season.Robinson led the Pirates with 16 points, but he spent much of the game playing in foul trouble.Pope, who had a double-double in the first meeting, scored just nine points but picked up 10 rebounds. He too played the game in foul trouble.Junior forward Robert Mitchell scored 10 points off of the bench for the Hall.The key stat in the game was the Pirates lack of defensive boards, allowing theMountaineers to get 21 offensive boards,which led to 21 second chance points.The Hall also turned the ball over 16 times, leading to 22 points for West Virginia.The Mountaineers led by 17 points several times in the game but the Hall was able to cut the lead down to four on two occasions before giving the double digit lead back to the Mountaineers.The Pirates return to action on Sunday when Marquette comes to Newark in the Hall’s final home game of the season.The Senior Day matchup is set for a noon tip off.Tim LeCras can be reached at email@example.com.
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