In a match up that pitted two of the top conferences in college basketball, the No. 4 Seton Hall men’s basketball team was eliminated from the National Invitational Tournament when they lost to No. 5 Texas Tech of the Big 12, 87-69, at Prudential Center on Tuesday.
“It’s kind of an honor and its kind of neat,” Texas Tech head coach Pat Knight said. “We hear about them all the time and see the highlights. It’s a big game for us to beat a team in this league.
The Pirates had a slow start to their post-season game, scoring just 10 points in the first five minutes of the game.
“Obviously it was a tough night for us,” head coach Bobby Gonzalez said. “We were very excited, it might not have looked like we were excited to play in this, but we were.”
The biggest sequence in the game came with 14:19 remaining in the first half, when Herb Pope was ejected for a flagrant foul after punching Red Raider Darko Cohadarevic.
“We can sometimes find a way to win without Jeremy but we really don’t have anybody or any way to win without Herb Pope,” Gonzalez said on losing Pope. “It’s very difficult, he’s just an irreplaceable guy for this team. He just does some many intangibles. He’s the heart and soul of this team.”
This incident seemed to spark the Red Raiders, as they went on a 17-3 run to take a 27-13 lead.
“It hurts when we lose a player from this team, whether they get hurt or thrown out because we all depend on each other,” sophomore Jeff Robinson said. “If we lose one guy or two guys it’s going to hurt regardless.”
Texas Tech led by 13 at the half, 45-32.
In the second half, the Red Raiders took control of the game.
With 8:16 remaining in the game, junior forward D’walyn Roberts hit a pair of free throws to give Texas Tech a 20 point lead.
Pirate freshman Ferrakohn Hall then fouled junior forward Brad Reese, who made one of his two free throws.
On the next possession for the Red Raiders, sophomore forward Robert Lewandowski hit a layup to put them up 23.
They extended their lead to 24 points with 6:47 remaining in the second half when junior forward Mike Singletary hit two free throws.
The Pirates never came within 15 points of the Red Raiders in the rest of the game.
For Texas Tech, junior guard John Roberson scored 22 points. He was one of four Red Raiders to score in double figures.
The other players were Roberts, Cohadarevic and junior Mike Singletary.
For Seton Hall, Robinson led all scorers in the game with 23 points.
Sophomore Jordan Theodore and senior Eugene Harvey were the only
other Pirates to score more than seven points. They had 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The Hall shot just 35.4 percent from the floor and 19.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Junior Jeremy Hazell was 3-10 in the game, with just six points.
“It comes to the point where guys got to keep their cool and we have to look in the mirror and take accountability for how we played tonight,” senior John Garcia said. “That’s the best word I can use, accountability.”
The Pirates finished the regular season with a record of 19-13.
They have not won an NIT game since 1956 and now have a record of 7-17 in the tournament.
The Pirates have not won a post season game since 2003-2004.
Tim LeCras can be reached at email@example.com.