It wouldn't be a Seton Hall opening night basketball game if it didn't feature ugly basketball and chomped finger nails. Luckily, the clutch play of Jordan Theodore propelled the Pirates past an otherwise sloppy performance to notch the first victory of the season. Theodore asked for the captaincy over the summer and tonight, made good on his request.
With 22 seconds left and trailing by 3 in regulation, Theodore found an open Patrik Auda twice in a matter of five seconds. However, after finding Auda on the wing, the refs intervened calling the Pirates point-guard for a costly turnover, giving the ball back to the Terriers with 9 seconds to play. Theodore would have been the goat, would have been, if his Coach didn't have the ultimate trust in his senior floor general.
After the Pirates fouled St. Francis on the subsequent possession, Travis Nichols went to the charity stripe with an opportunity to ice the game. After missing the front-end, the Pirates rebounded and moved the ball to Edwin streaking past mid-court. Edwin was in the process of setting up a potential 1-on-3 against 3 Terrier defenders which would have ultimately ended in a charge, a block, or a difficult contested running attempt. Instead, Kevin Willard called a timeout, bringing his players off the floor with 4 ticks remaining. Willard's decision would have been scrutinized had the outcome gone the other way and it should still be scrutinized. It was absolutely the correct call. Why let Edwin go 1-on-3, 90% of the time, with the clock expiring, that scenario is not going to end well. Instead, the Coach decided to set up a play for his point guard who was in the midst of a terrible shooting performance of his own. Despite only converting 5-of-19 attempts, there was no question who was going to get the ball with the game on the line. The captain.
Coming out of the timeout, Edwin found Theodore at the top of the key finding separation from his defender. With the ball in his hands, JT put his head down, took three dribbles with his left to get past the first defender, left his feet and was met by another defender in the air. Theodore then had the presence of mind to switch hands to his right to get a better angle on the basket and what do you know? Soft kiss of the glass, sending the game to overtime tied at 62. Despite Fuquan Edwin fouling out, the Pirates controlled the extra period riding the momentum they picked up in regulation. Fittingly enough, it was Theodore who confidently made all six of the Seton Hall free-throw attempts in the final 22-seconds to put the Terriers away for good. It might have been opening night, but it wasn't until the eleventh hour before a Pirate stepped up to put away a hot-shooting Terriers club. Theodore's teammates need to take him out for a steak or at least... something at Cryan's.
The game wasn't all clutch performances and perfect free throw shooting, no, not even close. There's a reason we went to overtime with St. Francis. The first 20 minutes of action was some of the more miserable basketball I've witnessed in the last 3 or 4 years. Looking at some of the numbers, the Pirates were outrebounded 45-39, despite having a distinct height advantage over SFC. How distinct? To my disbelief, the Terriers started a 6'4PF, Travis Nichols. The undersized PF, dropped 25pts/14reb and despite Auda sitting much of the first half in foul trouble, that just can't happen. Seton Hall had twice as many turnovers as assists, 14-to-7, shot 7% from distance and under 60% from the stripe. They surely didn't come across as a team that was firing on all cylinders against a pair of D1 schools in closed door scrimmages, but they found a way in the eleventh hour. We'll have much more on the Pirates victory in the morning, including JP Guerette's 5 thoughts. Sound off in the comments and enjoy this one, no matter how difficult it might have been on getting there.
Follow the jump for the box score and a look at some notable game stats.
Herb Pope: 21pts/14reb/2blk, 8-of-14FG, 5-of-7FT. There's no question, Pope SHOULD lead the conference in rebounding this year and he's off to a great start with 14 tonight. The best thing Bobby Gonzalez ever gave us? The line, "Three things are certain in life, Death, Taxes and a Herb Pope double-double."
Haralds Karlis: 8pts/3reb/blk in 27 minutes, including a HUGE 3-pointer (and lone Pirates make of the night) from the top of the key afer St. Francis extended their lead to 13 points with 12 minutes to play. Karlis also converted on a breakaway dunk in OT with a defender barring down on him. The play in question gave me ajidita, all too many times we've seen smaller Pirates in a similiar situation only to have a finger roll attempt rim out, but Karlis sent it home with two hands. Refreshing to see.
Potential 2012 backcourt: Freddie Wilson and Aaron Cosby combined for 3 points in nearly 50 minutes of play. The production there needs to step up and quickly. It was their first collegiate games, so there's some wiggle room, but both players looked unsure out there, save Cosby's and-1, late in regulation. I, for one, was surprised how much playing time Freddie received in the first half. Willard spent no time (6 minutes to be exact) moving Theodore off the ball and giving Wilson real experience in a meaningful game. Luckily, the 'Jordan at the 2' was kiboshed for most of the second half.