A chaotic final minute was what it came down to in Seton Hall’s 75-74 loss to Rhode Island in the NIT Season Tip-Off on Thanksgiving night. A Jared Terrell contested layup with five seconds to go was the cap to a 32-point night for the guard, and what ended up handing the Pirates their first loss of the season.
Seton Hall held a one-point lead through the final minute after Rhode Island led for 32 minutes of the game. With eight lead changes, many occurring in the final minutes, the Pirates could not steal the win.
Defensively for the Pirates, the game was a tale of two halves, as Seton Hall allowed 54 points in the first half and just 21 points in the second.
“We lost that game in the first half,” coach Kevin Willard said. “I don’t think we have ever given up 54 points as a team in a half. If we come out with good defensive intensity, if it’s 45-45 at the half, you’re giving yourself a much better chance to win the game.
“If we had played with the same defensive intensity and given up 21 in the second, I like our chances better.”
Rhode Island was stellar in the first half offensively, shooting 60 percent from the field and recording seven three-pointers. Terrell paced the Rams in the first half with 18 points and draining his eight shots at the free throw line.
After Seton Hall got in a hole early in the game, it was difficult for the players to climb back. Falling behind by as many as 11 points in the second half, the Pirates did not make a legitimate shot at taking the lead until eight minutes were left in the game.
The Pirates reached a one-point lead with two minutes left in the game thanks to getting some stops. Throughout the first three quarters, Rhode Island had some dry stretches but Seton Hall could not capitalize.
“I thought we did a good job on the offensive end at times, getting the ball inside,” Willard said. “We just did a little too much one-on-one tonight.”
Seton Hall’s leading scorer was Myles Powell, who finished with 21 points and five rebounds, draining 5-7 from three. Powell made the most noise in the first half, and Willard mentioned post-game that his teammates need to go to him more because he is an offensive weapon.
Rhode Island coach and Seton Hall alum Dan Hurley’s game plan was to not shut out Angel Delgado, who recorded 18 points and 14 rebounds, but to shut down the team’s shooters.
“We didn’t care if Delgado chewed us to death, we wanted to keep [Khadeen] Carrington, Powell and [Desi] Rodriguez around 40 points, if possible,” Hurley said. “We felt that if we kept them to 40 points between the three of them, we would win.”
Hurley’s squad ended up holding the three players to a combined 45 points, with Carrington and Rodriguez shooting 10-25 combined from the field.
Ismael Sanogo was a hero for Seton Hall in the last minute, as he was the one who got an offensive rebound and gave the team the one-point lead. From there, Seton Hall had their chances, but a backcourt violation with 21 seconds to go gave Rhode Island the ball and the ultimate game-winner.
Seton Hall turned the ball over five times in the last six minutes and did not record a point for the last two minutes of the game. When Carrington attempted to answer Terrell’s game-winner, he lost the ball in the paint. Sanogo picked it up, but he was not able to get a shot off.
Going forward, Willard plans to get his team in a better defensive mindset. He is still unsure why the team lacked in that discipline Thursday night.
“It’s just more of a defensive mentality, a little more of an intensity,” Willard said. “We were really flat defensively for some reason defensively in the first half, I just can’t figure it out.”
After falling to 4-1 on the season, No. 20 Seton Hall will play in the consolation game Friday against Vanderbilt University. Tip-off is set for 9:45 p.m.
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.