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Seton Hall falls to Syracuse after hot start, 76-65

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Chris Chambers

Packed to the gills with adrenaline from playing the No. 6 team in the country, Seton Hall torched the Prudential Center nets for the first nine minutes tonight in Newark. But it wasn’t to be for the Pirates as the Syracuse Orange closed out the first half on a 24-9 run and used their momentum to dictate tempo in the second half en route to a 76-65 victory. The loss drops Seton Hall to .500 on the season (13-13, 2-11) and is their seventh loss in a row.

Things went according to plan for Seton Hall early in the first half as the Pirates started the game by knocking down three straight threes, the first of which came from Brandon Mobley, who will undergo season ending shoulder injury on Tuesday. Aided by a pedestrian Syracuse start, Seton Hall flew into the under-12 timeout leading 21-14. However, the scoreboard reflected a hot shooting start from the home team (7-for-11) and a chilly one from the visitors (7-for-19). Seton Hall was able to build a 9-point lead at 21-12 that was always going to battle an offensive drought from the Pirates. Right on cue, the Hall was held scoreless for 3:22 and prevented from making a field goal for 7:51. Taking advantage, Syracuse went on a game-changing 24-9 run into the locker room.

The Orange shielded their lead from Seton Hall for much of the second half, stemming each mini Seton Hall surge with one of their own. The Pirates received a surprising boost from sophomore wing Haralds Karlis, who finished with 8 points and 4 assists. Haralds quietly had an efficient offensive night both on and off the ball. "I’ve been really happy [with Karlis]. He killed us on defense, he really had some big breakdowns," said Kevin Willard, before complimenting Karlis’ all-around contributions. With Seton Hall trailing 37-33 two minutes into the second half, Karlis had either scored or assisted on 19 of the Hall’s 33 points.

Seton Hall was pushed to the brink on and off the court after two Michael Carter-Williams free throws that built a 12-point Syracuse lead with 9:39 to play in the game. Around the same time, a Seton Hall fan was thrown out of the arena by official Michael Stephens. The fan, who was sitting courtside, refused to leave his seat until being convinced by a team of Prudential Center security guards.

Unaware of Syracuse's growing lead, Seton Hall junior Fuquan Edwin continued his campaign for team leader by scoring five quick points of his own. This time, Syracuse failed to keep Seton Hall at bay, the Pirates’ poor free throw shooting did. The Hall missed 12 free throws in the second half, finishing 17-29 (58%) on the night. "Missed opportunities, it’s kind of what we’ve seen all year," pinpointed Kevin Willard. The Orange then put Seton Hall out of their misery with a Brandon Triche dagger three-ball that gave Syracuse a 13-point advantage as 3:11 remained on the Prudential Center clock. Triche, who was talked up by Kevin Willard prior to tonight’s game, finished with a game and career high 29 points. "He’s one of those guys that everybody talks a lot about, with everybody on that roster. If I were an NBA GM and I had a team, he’s probably the first guy I’d look at bringing into my organization," complimented Willard. "He’s a difference maker, you can’t beat them [Syracuse] unless you stop him."

Despite the double digit victory for Syracuse, Seton Hall played a quality basketball game tonight in front of 13,569, a record setting attendance number for Pirate basketball at the Prudential Center. They turned the ball over just 9 times, played very solid defense and spread the ball around on offense. "We did a pretty good job, took care of the basketball, had some good looks a couple times in the second half," said Willard. "Good effort, something good to build on going into Tuesday."