Anytime you go to casino and leave feeling as if you've stolen something, well, you'd call it a good night. That's exactly what Seton Hall (3-1) will do this evening after Tommy Maayan (5ast/4stl) literally stole victory from the hands of Mike Powell (19pts, 5-of-6 3pt) and the Rhode Island (0-4) Rams.
With 38 seconds remaining and the Pirates trailing by a point, Maayan found Edwin who streaked to the rim for an uncontested layup putting the Pirates on top. On URI's next possession, Maayan picked Mike Powell's pocket at the top of the key, secured the basketball and was immediately fouled. The freshman, who regained his starting nod at the point, cooly stepped to the stripe and sank both attempts extending the lead to three. Xavier Munford proceeded to clank a game-tying try and the Pirates left the Connecticut casino with a 1-1 split on the trip.
The Pirates shot poorly from deep (4-of-15), but managed to eek out victory large in part to the force feeding of Eugene Teague (21pts/9reb), who also finished 7-of-9 from the line. If the long balls aren't falling, it's imperative Seton Hall establishes an inside presence and as we saw against Norfolk State, Gene simply wore the opponent down. With ten minutes remaining in the second half, the Rams already depleted front court was in serious foul trouble as Jordan Hare and Mike Aaman each stayed on the bench with four fouls a piece.
Making matters worse for URI, the slap happy Rams put the Pirates into the double bonus with more than 7 minutes in regulation remaining. On the subject of free points, Seton Hall got to the line 26 times, whereas Rhode Island made just 7 trips. Teague's improvement at the line (9-of-25 coming into tonight) was none more impressive than the two he sank with 1:58 remaining that cut the Rams lead to three points.
Brandon Mobley, who sat with a hyper extended knee and bone bruise, will undergo an MRI tomorrow and is expected to miss about two weeks, unless the MRI shows ligament damage. Mobley's absence was painfully obvious on the glass this evening, just as it will be in the coming games. Without the sophomore forward, the Pirates managed to grab just 24 boards, of which, 75% came from Teague (9), Oliver (5) and Edwin (4). Teague's teammates are going to have to hit the glass alongside of him, specifically, Patrik Auda (1).
Although most fans though the Pirates would leave Mohegan with a 1-1 split, most believed it would come with a victory against Washington and a loss to the 4th ranked Buckeyes. Instead, Seton Hall returns home without a bad loss on their non-conference schedule. For now, we'll take solace in the fact that disaster has been averted. A loss to a bad Rhode Island team, would have been just that, a disaster. That said, we won't dwell on what-if scenarios, especially negative ones. At the end of the day, Seton Hall did what they had to do, in beating an inferior opponent.
The same type of effort should work fine Wednesday against another bad team in Maine, but hopefully the tryptophan wears off in time for Saint Peter's on Sunday. John Dunne has already knocked off Rutgers and would love nothing more than to go 2-0 against New Jersey's Big East representatives. I'm getting ahead of myself and after an effort such as tonight's, that's probably not such a good idea. Next up, Maine. Let's go Hall.