While I'd love to use something cliche following Seton Hall's (6-2) win over NJIT (4-4) on Tuesday evening, I just can't bring myself to do so. The Pirates didn't, "get back on track," or, "rebound nicely" following the epic collapse at Baton Rouge last Thursday. Well, maybe Fuquan Edwin (22pts/10reb) did, but tonight's action saw two teams play what can only be described as an ugly brand of basketball for forty minutes. There's bad and there's ugly and this game definitely settled closer to the latter.
Edwin went full beast mode in the first half (7-of-8, 3-of-3 3pt) as he nearly paced the Highlanders output by himself, but, his teammates were as cold as the Ice Bar, shooting just 4-of-20 and 1-of-12 from deep. To put it frankly, if Fuquan Edwin didn't take the floor tonight, Seton Hall would have been crushed by the Highlanders 21 first half points. In the second half, Edwin looked well on his way to surpassing his career high of 28-points, but picked up his 4th foul with just under 11 minutes on the clock and took a comfortable seat on the pine.
One of the few exciting moments of tonight's game was seeing freshman center Kevin Johnson (3pts/2reb/8min) get into the ballgame for a couple meaningful stretches. Johnson's play was encouraging for someone who's seen such minimal action throughout the early season. From not forcing shots, kicking out to teammates, dribbling out of the double, backing down a defender (or two), Johnson showed that he's capable of receiving extended minutes if he can stay in Willard's good graces.
Things marginally turned around in the second half, if for nothing else, the Pirates played turnover free basketball for the first 9-minutes and while NJIT made a run or two, Seton Hall (assisted by the Highlanders atrocious shooting), managed to keep them at bay. Kyle Smyth (13pts, 4-of-6 3pt) hit a pair of 3-pointers within a 4 minute stretch midway through the second, and Aaron Cosby (10pts, 1-of-8) added a triple after the Highlanders pulled within 5 points (4:50) to keep Seton Hall in front late into the closing minutes.
Chris Flores' (23pts/5reb/4ast) drilled his fifth 3-pointer of the night with 2-minutes on the clock to pull the Highlanders within 4, but Seton Hall and Kyle Smyth answered with a dagger 4-point play to extend the lead back to 8 with 1:40 remaining. The quality of play on display tonight is never very much fun to watch, but Seton Hall did JUST enough to defeat an inferior opponent. Emphasis on inferior, the Highlanders shot just 34% from the floor, yet managed to hang around all night, take that as you will.
The Pirates are next in action on Saturday as they travel to North Carolina for a bout with Wake Forest.