NEWARK - The Prudential Center crowd was amped and on their feet when Jaren Sina hit No. 24 Seton Hall's first triple of the game to give his team a 55-47 lead with a little over five minutes to play, but the euphoria was short-lived.
DePaul found a way to grind out a 17-5 run over the final 4:38 of play that handed them a 64-60 win, their first over a ranked opponent on the road since beating Wake Forest in 2005.
"We got happy not knowing there was five minutes left in the game and not knowing the three-ball is a big x-factor," said Pirate forward Brandon Mobley. "We got happy, we turned the ball over, they got an easily lay-up and then a three-pointer."
"I think that's the point in the game where you have to turn it up to another notch and I don't think we did that," said Jaren Sina of the closing minutes. "I think we let our guard down, DePaul made a nice run and then our momentum was kind of shot. They were controlling the tempo at that point."
With their backs against the wall, the Blue Demons notched two free throws from a Seton Hall turnover then one-time Pirate recruit Darrick Wood hit their third and final three-pointer of the game in response to the Hall's never-commanding eight-point lead. Now in a dogfight, it was Wood again who scored a gutsy basket to put his team ahead 59-58, a lead they would not relinquish.
"We took two quick shots with 30 seconds on the shot clock, and then we turned it over where we fouled and they got two points. I thought that was the momentum changer," said Kevin Willard of DePaul's surge. "Then Darrick Wood hit a tough shot."
"They just outplayed us. They made the 50-50 plays and we didn't," said a frank Brandon Mobley after the game. "They played harder."
"Coach kept saying at the end of the game ‘your youth is starting to show a lot.' I think we just have to be a little mentally tougher, including myself," admitted Jaren Sina. "We just have to make smarter decisions, smarter plays, find ways to execute late in the game. I thought that's what DePaul did well and why they ended up getting the win."
While the game was ultimately decided over the last five minutes, the first 35 played a role in setting up the come-from-behind finish.
Coming off an eight-day break since hosting Butler, Seton Hall was just 1 of 16 from beyond the arc, shot 30-percent from the field, registered just six assists on their 18 field goals, and turned it over 15 times. 20 offensive rebounds - eight from Angel Delgado - kept Seton Hall afloat by providing 22 second chance points.
"I dont think we played well offensively at all, I think Angel was the only one that really played well offensively," said Willard of Delgado, who added 19 points to his 19 rebounds. "I expected us to be a little bit rusty coming off eight days [rest], I didn't expect us to be that much."
A huge part of Seton Hall's struggle to score was Sterling Gibbs being held to just eight points on 2 of 16 shooting by the bigger, stronger Jamee Crockett, who has a knack of spoiling things for the Hall.
"We did a nice job on Gibbs, we did some switching at the end and then we came up with some timely rebounds," said DePaul skipper Oliver Purnell post-game. "I have to give Jamee Crockett most of the credit."
Crockett's defensive effort on Gibbs and his added 11 points off the bench are a big reason why the Blue Demons are now 5-2 and tied for first with Georgetown and Providence in the conference. Seton Hall is currently in sixth at 3-3 and have dropped three of their last four.
Senior Brandon Mobley's key for Seton Hall to bounce back at Butler on Sunday?
"We just have to man up."