After falling behind by 20 points with 16 minutes remaining, Seton Hall (15-10, 6-8) could have easily packed it in. In fact, we've seen it previously this season. Today the Pirates battled until the final whistle, pulling within 3 with 3 minutes to go, before West Virginia (21-5, 10-4) went on a 12-3 run to finish the game. In Newark, the Pirates were able to erase a 10 point deficit with 56 seconds remaining, due to poor Mountaineer FT shooting, however they showed great improvement this afternoon, scoring all of their final 12 points on made FTs, death by FT.
Gonzalez showed an equal amount of fight as his players did today, refusing to allow them to hang their heads as they trailed big into the early minutes of the 2nd half. He managed the foul trouble of Jeff Robinson and Herb Pope quite well, as he was forced to play each of them extended minutes in the first half after each picked up 2PFs. Unlike packing it in against Villanova, Bobby fouled until there were 15 seconds remaining, never quitting on them today. Jeff Robinson showed maturity and awareness by not fouling out, despite picking up his 4th PF with 12:41 to go. Herb Pope picked up his 3rd, 4th and 5th foul in just a minute and a half in the closing minutes. To be fair, his 5th foul was when Seton Hall was in full foul mode in an attempt to send WVU to the line.
The opportunity was there, Hazell had a chance to cut the lead to 2PTs with 3 minutes to go, but missed one-of-two and from there, WVU put on a FT shooting clinic, icing the game. A win on the road, in Morgantown, would have solidified the Pirates standing on the BIG EAST bubble. The Pirates were within reach as they've been many times throughout the season, but again, couldn't make plays down the stretch to steal one. At least we've reached a juncture in the season where it's clear what they need to do in order to finish their season on the bubble: Win out. That's it. That's all they can do, win the remaining four, which are all manageable games and worry about picking up a BET victory or two when they cross that bridge.
-JRob, fresh off raising his 3PT percentage to 20% after hitting two against St. John's, has apparently given himself the "Hazell green light" as he launched two terrible attempts, one of which didn't hit rim. Outside of those two bad shot attempts, it was another extremely efficient and productive game for Jeff. Had he not taken the 3PT attempts, he would have finished with 16PTS/5REB/STL on 6-of-8 shooting and 4-of-4 from the stripe.
-Herb Pope finished with 9PTS/10REB, extending his double-double drought to 11 games. Very odd, considering he recorded a dub-dub in his first three BIG EAST conference games. You can attribute it to the rest of the league studying his weaknesses along with the emergence of Jeff Robinson, contributing on the scoreboard and the glass. Pope, went down before the end of the first half and at first glance, it looked like it could have been an extremely serious injury. He was screaming in a lot of pain, and yelling, "I can't feel it," while the trainer poked around behind his knee. Thankfully, Pope was able to return in the 2nd half and despite playing with a noticeable limp, he was able to hang in until he fouled out in the final minute.
-Jordan Theodore and Keon Lawrence contributed 16PTS/6AST/7REB/5TO. Lawrence, individually, put forth one of his better games of the season, finishing on 4-of-8 shooting. Not bad games by the duo, but the offense clearly doesn't have the same flow it does without the services of Eugene Harvey.
-4 of the 5 WVU starters recorded at least 6 REBs as they hammered Seton Hall on offensive rebounds, 19-to-11. In one the rare occasions this year, the Pirates finished in a negative AST/TO ratio. Recording 12AST/16TO.
-The Pirates actually shot a better percentage from the floor than the Mountaineers (41%-38%), however, this was one was decided from the stripe. West Virginia went to the charity stripe 38 times. Granted, 12 of those came in the final 2 minutes, but still, say they earned 26 attempts on their own, the Pirates only shot 15 attempts. Interesting, to say the least.
...Much more to come in tomorrow's morning after post.