A litany of Louisville mistakes and missed shots let Seton Hall hang around, practically begging the Pirates to upset the No. 3 team in the country. The opportunity of a season was met with equal ineptitude when the ball was in Seton Hall hands as a close game for 29 minutes was thrown away in the closing 11, resulting in a 73-58 Louisville win in Newark tonight.
Seton Hall managed to conjure a 2-point first half deficit through effective offensive ball movement mixed with delightful off-the-ball movement in the form of cuts to the basket. Eugene Teague and Brandon Mobley matched Seton Hall’s adequate offensive output in the first half with just one personal foul between the two of them on the defensive end. On top of solid interior play, Louisville was held at an arm's length beyond the arc in the first half, shooting just 1-of-6 from deep.
Beyond all the positives, something just seemed off. Seton Hall was just 2-of-9 from long range, accumulated seven missed free throws, turned Louisville over just one time and had just one point of offense from leading scorer Fuquan Edwin, yet somehow trailed by a basket.
The culprit of a curious first half that provided Seton Hall with all the hope in the world? A pedestrian Louisville.
Prior to tip-off, the paramount ingredients for Pirate victory were shutting down Russ Smith (11 points, 2-of-11 shooting), handling Louisville’s pressure and getting a little hot from deep. The first two objectives were met while Seton Hall floundered at sea on the offensive output end of things. After a reviving 6-0 run to end the first half that brought the Prudential County Club’s constituency to their feet, Seton Hall hiccupped a scoreless first 4:30 of the second half, the perfect time to pounce on a dormant Louisville following a tepid finish to the first half. After surviving a ghastly start to the second half, the Pirates traded non-fatal punches with the Cardinals, the most notable of which was a game tying Fuquan Edwin three pointer with 12:52 to play.
But like stop-and-go rush hour traffic, the delightful optimism of a potential breakthrough was countered with a wall of Cardinal-red brake lights. After Edwin’s hope filled three-ball, Louisville rode a 21-to-8 run into the under-4 timeout, effectively dashing Seton Hall’s upset bid.
While a 15-point margin of victory does not accurately depict how close tonight’s battle between mentor and student played out, it also does not tell the story of the game. Seton Hall did plenty of things very well but failed to do the one thing that matters above all else in the game of basketball: score.