Hall loses battle of bubble teams
The Pirates NCAA Tournament hopes are all but gone after losing to the Marquette Golden Eagles 84-83 in overtime. With the loss the Hall now stands in place in the Big East with a record of 7-9 in conference and 16-11 overall.
“It was a tough loss for us today,” head coach Bobby Gonzalez said. “A lot of things went wrong for us. To start the game we just had bad luck.”Junior Jeremy Hazell failed to connect on a three point attempt with two seconds left which would have forced a second overtime. In the overtime period Hazell scored 12 of the Pirates 14 points, including a four point play which put the Hall within one at the time. The Pirates have yet to win a game which has gone to overtime this year, with a record of 0-4 in overtime.”We can’t get over the hump for some reason,” head coach Bobby Gonzalez said. “Overtimes haven’t been good for us this year.”Even with Hazell being the Pirates offense in overtime, four different Pirates scored in double figures. Junior, Jeff Robinson led all scorers with 25 points, a career high, on 11-15 shooting, with Hazell scoring 19 points, all of which came after the start of the second half. Also in double figures scoring for the Hall was sophomore Jordan Theodore with 18 on 7-11 shooting and 4-4 from three and senior Eugene Harvey who came one assist shy of a double-double recording nine assists to go with his 13 points.”If you can get the ball inside you can score against them,” Gonzalez said. “That’s why Robinson was so successful.”Besides the all around scoring the Pirates received a team effort on the boards, outrebounding Marquette 38-28, and pulling down 14 offensive rebounds. Sophomore Herb Pope led the Hall grabbing eight rebounds, four offensive, with three other Pirates getting at least five rebounds.The game got off to an ominous start for the Hall when Hazell had to be pulled out of the starting lineup, due to back spasms, after pregame warm-ups.”All of a sudden [Hazell] said he couldn’t move,” Gonzalez said. “Something happened to his back. I didn’t know if he was going to play.”To start the game Marquette jumped out to an early 15-6 lead, all on three’s, with senior Lazar Hayward making three.”You can’t do that,” Theodore said of falling behind early. “We were pretty much fighting back all game.”For the rest of the duration of the first half, the Pirates would stay behind getting as close as five points before ending the half down eight to Marquette.Staring the second half the Pirates went on a 13-7 run, putting the Hall with-in two, when Hazell made his first basket of the game to put the team up one.Down two to Marquette with 5:37 remaining in the game, Harvey was called for an intentional foul on Marquette’s Jimmy Butler, who made one of two free throws and then on the same possession David Cubillian made a three giving the Golden Eagles 62-56 lead.The Pirates would take the lead right after that scoring the next seven points after a Theodore three and a Harvey lay-up to take the 63-62 advantage.With 29 seconds remaining in the game, with the Hall down two, Harvey drove to the hoop, and on a questionable call his basket was not allowed and instead went to the line for two shots instead of a chance at a three point play. On the ensuing free throws Harvey made both of them to tie the game at 69-69.”He found a way to tie the game anyway,” Gonzalez said. “That shows incredible character and toughness.”With Marquette’s Hayward missing a three as time expired putting the game into overtime, making it the Golden Eagle’s third straight game that went into overtime, with them winning the previous two.From the start Marquette went out to a five point lead in the opening minute.”We hit the wall a little bit,” Gonzalez said. “They got off to a good start but we came back from that.”Down five, Hazell took over for the Pirates bring them back into the game, making three three-pointers in a row with the last of them being a four point play pulling the Hall within one.After two Marquette free throws, down three, Hazell put up a shot with hands all around him which hit off the back board and then the front rim before falling out, Pope would tip the shot in but it would not matter making the final score 84-83 in favor to Marquette.”Of course,” Theodore said of giving the last shot to Hazell. “He comes through for us every time we need him.”The loss, all but destroys the Pirates NCAA Tournament hopes with only two games remaining before the big east tournament.”It’s not over,” Theodore said. “It’s never over, we believe in fighting to the end. If were going down, were going down fighting.”The Pirates take on Rutgers Thursday March 4, in a rematch of the Hall’s 76-70 win on Feb. 23.Stephen Valenti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org