There was a collapse at the Prudential Center. Luckily for the fans, it wasn't the roof. Although, it certainly feels like it. The Pirates failed to make a field goal in the final 8 minutes before Fuquan Edwin's layup with :02 remaining, cut UConn's lead to two points. That's really all you need to know. But nonetheless, the recap follows.
Against West Virginia, we witnessed one of the poorest offensive performances of this unit's tenure. Last night, we witnessed one of the most disappointing, heart wrenching losses for the Seton Hall program in recent memory. The Pirates raced out to a 37-32 halftime lead as Jeff Robinson nailed one of his trademark, "NO, NO, YES!" 3-point attempts with time expiring on the half. They began the second half right where they left off, putting together a 13-4 run, extending the lead to 14 with 14 minutes remaining, forcing Jim Calhoun to burn a timeout to lay into his players. Lay into them, inspire them, make them fear for their lives, who knows exactly what Calhoun did, but it worked. The two teams traded buckets briefly, but Seton Hall tightened up through an 8-minute drought in the final 8-minutes. The Pirates failed to score a bucket until there were two ticks left on the clock with UConn leading by 4. The field goal-less drought, cemented the collapse as Connecticut made the Pirates pay, finishing them off on a 25-9 run after Calhoun's timeout. Game Over. Goodnight. Collapse. Hey, Herb Pope's coming back! (More on that below).
With 11-minutes left in the game, Jeremy Hazell was sitting on a double-double of 19PTS/11REB, on a volume scoring-esuqe kind of night. He didn't shoot it a for a good percentage (7-for-22, 3-for-10 3PT), but he hurt the Huskies with his usual streaky scoring. After putting up eight points in a 4-minute stretch in the first half, including two deep-3PT attempts, one of which was tightly contested, it looked like Hazell was heating up. Hazell's dunk and 19th point of the night with 12-minutes remaining would be his last field goal of the contest. Coinciding with the Pirates drought, Jeremy would only attempt 4 shots in the final 12-minutes. It's certainly not the first time where we've seen his teammates fail to feed him the rock with the game slipping away. That said, give UConn credit for stopping him. Hazell had his way with the smaller Kemba Walker in the first half and ten minutes through the second, but Calhoun gave the freshman Jeremy Lamb the assignment for the latter part of the final period and Lamb came through. Jeremy finished with 20PTS/11REB/4STL in 36 minutes of action.
Jeff Robinson had one of his better 3-point shooting nights of the season, converting on 3-of-7 attempts, including his first half make with :02 remaining, giving Seton Hall a 5-point cushion heading into the intermission. Despite taking 7-attempts from downtown, JRob pounded the Huskies on the glass, something we haven't seen much of when he's camping out around the perimeter this season. Robinson, played nearly the entire game (38 minutes), contributing 15PTS/11REB on 6-of-14 shooting. A terrific performance for one of, if not, the Pirates most consistent player(s), but what will be remembered of Robinson in this one? Sadly, the weight of the L will settle on his shoulders for an extremely mind-boggling decision and contested layup attempt with the game on the line.
With 38-seconds remaining and a fresh shot-clock, the Pirates trailed the Huskies by one point. Kevin Willard used a timeout to draw up a designed play. What transpired from the timeout was anything but designed. Instead of using the majority of the clock, the Pirates found Jeff Robinson who didn't give much thought to what he was going to do next. Robinson put his head down and attempted to penetrate the lane. The problem? Two Huskies were swarming him, there's no way he could possibly get a clean look, certainly he'll dish it out and find a teammate right? Wrong. Robinson went up anyways, hoisting a ridiculously low-percentage layup attempt against two defenders and TWENTY-THREE seconds remaining on the game clock, TWENTY on the shot clock. As the camera panned to a dejected Willard, Coach could clearly be seen mouthing, "That's not what we drew up, WHAT THE F-- WAS THAT?" Funny, I also muttered that to myself as the possession played out. After two Roscoe Smith made FTs and a blocked Jeremy Hazell 3-point attempt, the collapse was cemented.
The officiating wasn't pretty. In fact, it was outright terrible. The Pirates and Patrik Auda were called on numerous ticky-tack fouls around the perimeter. The quicker whistle absolutely came when the Huskies had the rock in their possession. There was a blatant travel by the Huskies as they had a layup attempt blocked, the ball was never dislodged and UConn came down with the possession. For whatever reason, the zebras called it a tie-up. Really, a tie-up? How exactly is a blocked shot attempt ruled a shared ball? Late in the second half, Jordan Theodore was called for a PF when he placed his hand on Shabazz Napier's back. I kid you not, placed. Players have more hand contact when checking their man on defense. The Huskies shot 21-FT attempts, with 3-minutes left in the game the Pirates had shot 3. If that's not a red flag, you must be color blind. Like many Seton Hall fans, I blamed the officials for this loss. For all of two minutes. There is NO excuse to sleepwalk through an 8-minute drought without scoring a field goal. NONE. Terrible officials or not, the blame falls solely on the players and the coaching. This game could have been played without officials and the Pirates would have still lost. If you can't put the ball in the bucket, you're not going to win. It's as simple as that. It's the first rule of the game, you must score. The Pirates failed to do that when it counted and this morning, they've got nobody to blame but the mirror.