When it comes to snapping a six game losing streak, there's no better place to do it than in the house of your hated intrastate rival. That's exactly what Seton Hall (16-8, 5-7) did tonight, defeating Rutgers (12-13, 4-8) 59-54, winning for the fifth consecutive year at the RAC. Jordan Theodore spoke a lot this week about how much the game meant to him, Seton Hall and his teammates. Did he ever back up his words. Finishing his Seton Hall career undefeated at Piscataway, Theodore willed his Pirates to victory, turning in 24 points while taking the game over late in the second half. JT's 3 assists and 3 turnovers don't tell the whole story, he distributed the ball much better than that, but fell victim to quite a few missed shots after finding his teammates with good looks. He was the best player on the floor tonight; with his team's season quickly turning disasterous, he took firm control of the ship's helm and navigated the rocky seas to see another day. Ladies and gentlemen, your Pirates are alive.
For the first time in weeks, Seton Hall didn't get off to a slow start. Believe it or not, they scored 8 points in the first three minutes, it was absolutely refreshing to see. The Pirates controlled most of the first half, however, turnovers did them in late, allowing Rutgers to take a 28-26 lead into the break. Despite outshooting the Scarlet Knights by roughly 15% over the first twenty minutes, the Pirates could not take care of the basketball, turning it over 13 times and essentially, handing Rutgers the halftime momentum. After trading leads throughout the second half, the Pirates held a 48-44 advantage heading into the final media timeout, but of course, this game wouldn't be complete without a little old-fashion extra circular activity.
After a shooting foul was called on Aaron Cosby (9pts, 3-of-5 3pt), Herb Pope (12pts/12reb) and Eli Carter (13pts) traded words before Herb Pope headbutted the Rutgers freshman. You read that correctly, once again, Herb Pope lost his cool. I'm sure I'll touch on this again later, but let me just say, it's inexcusable and ridiculous that we're still seeing this side of Pope.
Carter retaliated with a two handed shove which brought about a HILARIOUS Oscar-worthy flop from Pope. Coaches and assistants worked to separate their players and when the smoke was cleared, Seton Hall was somehow charged for a shooting foul (Cosby) and two technical fouls (Pope, Mobley) while Rutgers was charged with one T (Carter). The end result? Rutgers would get four shots and the ball. Three made free throws and a Dane Miller 3-pointer later, Rutgers led 50-48 and it surely felt like the officials had robbed the Pirates of the game. On Seton Hall's next possession, Herb Pope hit a three from the top of the key, which put his team on top, for good. Rutgers had a chance trailing by two with the ball, but after a missed Eli Carter 3-point attempt, it was Seton Hall frosh, Aaron Cosby who cemented his name in the rivalry's history books. Mobley found Cosby and with his man closing in, he calmly hit a dagger 3-pointer that gave the Pirates a 5 point lead with 42 seconds remaining. During the timeout that followed, Theodore congratulated Cosby on his first (of hopefully many) memorable moment of the series.
Well folks, thats five in a row (at the RAC) and more importantly, five conference wins. The Pirates, have a lot of work left to do, but there's life. The Pirates are next in action, Sunday afternoon at The Rock, taking on a red hot Pittsburgh Panthers team. Five (including BET game) more needed. As always, Let's Go Hall!