Going into last night's contest, Seton Hall did not need any help from LIU Brooklyn to exploit the Blackbirds' far inferior height in the paint. There would be no such luck for the 3-peat NEC Tournament Champions as the Pirates' were able to draw 6-foot-6 E.J. Reed and 6-foot-6 Landon Atterberry, LIU Brooklyn's two starting forwards, into foul trouble (2 fouls) with 11:00 still remaining in the first half. Atterberry would later pick up his third infraction with 5:21 to play in the first period just 18 seconds after being subbed back into the game.
Critical foul trouble forced LIU Brooklyn to play a 1-2-2 zone for most of the game, but it wasn't immediately taken advantage of by Seton Hall. The Pirates started the game 0-for-8 from deep until Brandon Mobley (14 pts, 7 rebs) drilled a long-ball with 9:02 to play in the first half. Then Sterling Gibbs (16 pts, 5 asts, 0 TOs) followed Mobley's lead with a 3-pointer of his own which snapped a personal drought that lasted since 14:52 remained in the second half against Oklahoma. Gibbs was 0-for-22 from the field during that span. Gibbs' made shot extended Seton Hall's lead to 7 (29-22) with 7:17 to play in the half.
Mobley and Gibbs sparked a Seton Hall surge that ignited Brian Oliver (26 pts, 8-17 3pt), subsequently adding to their lead by another 10 points before the half concluded. A 17-point halftime cushion put Seton Hall in pole position to take care of LIU Brooklyn in the second half.
Post-game quotes from Kevin Willard:
On coping with injuries (Edwin, Auda), taken from Jerry Carino's game notes: "It changes things dramatically. I have to get Haralds (Karlis) playing better. He's a good player and I have to get him in there where he's playing better . . . You never like to have injuries, obviously, but having them on Dec. 5, it's better than when it happened last year. Last year it happened one day before the Big East Conference started and we just had no chance."
Regarding Fuquan Edwin's injury: "Fu is going to be out at least a week or two. He's going to get X-rays tomorrow to make sure he didn't do any major damage. We've got to figure out a way to get him back, but we need to make sure we take care of him. He just went up for a rebound and came down and rolled his ankle. That's where you have to be careful, because when you roll it like that you can pop it and chip something, like Brian (Oliver) did last year."
On Brian Oliver's recent play (8-17 3pt): "He's doing what he really does best. He's a great shooter, a major weapon when he just shoots the basketball."
Post-game quotes from the Seton Hall players:
Brian Oliver on Edwin's injury, copied from Brendan Prunty's game story: "It was gut-wrenching. Fuquan, he's real loud, so if something's bothering him, you know. And he was loud and moving around and you didn't really know. Just seeing him in pain, it was gut-wrenching for all of us. It's just tough. But I think he'll be fine."
Oliver on filling Edwin's shoes by scoring: "Coach (Oliver) Antigua said something to me, that he thought I was shying away from my shots a little bit. He said, 'Hey man, you've got to shoot it. No one else is going to take shots.' I definitely feel like I helped the team."
From Jerry Carino's game story: "Your best player is hurt, it's gut-check time. Our team responded well."
Gene Teague's reaction to Edwin going down: "When he goes down, mentally, I was out of it for a little. I wasn't sure how severe his injury was."
Interesting stats & notes:
Seton Hall started the game 0-8, 1-12, and 4-16 from beyond the arc before finishing 14-38. Seton Hall's 38 attempted 3-pointers against LIU Brooklyn last night was their highest total since attempting 38 against West Virginia in 2001. Darius Lane went all Brian Oliver on West Virginia that day, making 7-of-14 3-pointers.
Gene Teague's 8 offensive rebounds and 16 total rebounds were both career-highs. Teague (17 pts, 16 rebs) grabbed 7 offensive boards against Wake Forest and 15 total rebounds against DePaul last season.
As written in our preview, LIU Brooklyn came into last night's game with a defense built around not fouling, while Seton Hall is one of the top free-throw rate teams in the country. Here is a very interesting look from NYC Buckets on how the Pirates won that battle last night.
Brian Oliver's 8 made-threes fell short of tying Shaheen Holloway's career-high of 9 and four shy of Seton Hall's record of 12 made-threes in a game, held by Jamel Jackson (vs. VMI, 2009), of course. All but four of Oliver's attempted field goals this season have been three-pointers. All 25 of his made field goals have been from beyond the arc.
Jaren Sina (6 pts, 6 asts), Brian Oliver, and Sterling Gibbs all played 33+ minutes against LIU Brooklyn. If Tom Maayan (6 pts, 2-2 3pt) does indeed leave the program on January 2nd, expect to see Seton Hall's guards playing those type of minutes throughout the Big East season.
Seton Hall had at least an 85% win probability for the entire game last night.