The Pirates watched their Big East Championship dreams slip away as they dropped their quarterfinal matchup with UCONN on Thursday night. RJ Cole and Tyrese Martin led the Huskies with 17 points each as they thrashed the Pirates 62-52.
Fresh off a thrilling 57-53 win Georgetown on Wednesday night, the Pirates returned to Madison Square Garden to square off with the No. 3 seeded Huskies in the conference's quarterfinals.
The Huskies got off to a much quicker start than the Pirates thanks to an anemic offensive showing from The Hall in the first half. Head coach Kevin Willard's squad could only muster 18 points in the first half, a season-low in either half for the team.
The sources of scoring was limited to just four Pirates, as graduate senior Myles Cale had 8 points, sophomore Kadary Richmond had 5 points, graduate senior Alexis Yetna had 3 points, and senior Jared Rhoden had 2 points.
Thankfully, solid defense held Connecticut to just 29 first half points, a total that was barely good enough to keep the Pirates in it.
The second half was more of the same: weak offense and rock solid defense.
With little help, Cale and Richmond decided they would not go out without a last-ditch effort. Cale continued to be the catalyst on offense, finishing with 17 points, and Richmond gutted out a 14-point performance even with an injured hand.
The Syracuse transfer was obviously having issues with his sprained thumb, but chose the team over himself.
"I made the decision to go out there and play," Richmond said. "I knew what was going to come with it. A couple bumps, bruises. But I think these next couple of days are going to help me get close to 100% with my hand and be able to go out there, be more aggressive, and make better plays."
Thursday was a vintage MSG performance from Myles Cale, as he has posted fantastic numbers at The World's Most Famous Arena throughout his career. He hit a game-winning three-pointer to upset No. 9 Kentucky in his sophomore year, and this year he has put up 52 points in just three games at MSG.
"Everytime you come here, there's always a good crowd," Cale said of his love for The Mecca of Basketball. "People come out. New York City, a lot of people come out and they're rowdy. They talk a lot of stuff. It's just fun playing here, playing in this atmosphere."
Besides the veteran Cale and the battered Richmond, the Pirates had no answers and allowed the Huskies' defense to tear them apart. Rhoden, the team's leading scorer and First Team All-Big East honoree, put up a mere 7 points, his second-lowest total of the season. As a team, the Pirates posted just 52 points, their worst offensive showing of the season by a longshot.
Despite the severe lack of scoring and getting beat down handily by a tournament-bound conference opponent, Willard likes where his team is at and is confident heading into Selection Sunday.
"I'm proud of these guys and I'm proud of this team," Willard said. "I love the way they battled, the way they came through February. I think we're a little tired, to be honest with you. It's been a long February, and then March, with the four games already in March. I'm proud of them. I'm proud of these guys, proud of the way they battled."
Thanks to the loss, the Pirates are not assured a bid to the NCAA Tournament that begins next week. However, the Pirates established such a strong resume that they should be more worried about who they play in March Madness, rather than if they play in the tournament will at all.
All of Seton Hall basketball, team and fans alike, will have their eyes glued to their TVs on Sunday when seeding for the tournament is determined at 6 p.m. on CBS.