Hearts were broken for Seton Hall and its fans on Wednesday night. In the first round of the Big East Tournament, the Pirates let a winnable game slip through their fingers. The Hall lost to the DePaul Blue Demons (DEP) with a tragic final score of 66-65. The game ended after the referees overturned a goal-tending call that would’ve given Seton Hall the two points that they needed.
Photo Credit: Big East Conference
A Tight Game
This game was truly neck-and-neck as these two teams battled in Madison Square Garden. Neither team ever led by double digits throughout the entirety of the game. Seton Hall’s largest lead was by nine points, while DePaul’s largest lead was by six points. The first half ended with a score of 32-28, and the game remained close until the end.
Photo Credit: Sporting News.com
The Stats Speak
The Hall had areas of improvement on the offensive end that cost them the game. The team shot an efficient 50% from the field (25-50 FG), but that does not tell the whole story. HALL shot 26.7% (4-15 FG) from the three-point line. Meanwhile, DEP shot a much more efficient 50% (10-20 FG) from the three-point stripe. It didn’t help that Seton Hall’s best shooter, Al-Amir Dawes, had a rough shooting night. He scored 12 points (6-15 FG) but shot 0-6 from three.
Photo Credit: The Herald Journal
The two teams matched one another with 14 turnovers each. However, the Hall’s late-game turnovers buried them. On top of that, Seton Hall struggled to make their free throws. They shot 61.1% (11-18 FT) from the free-throw line, which was worse than their average of 68%. In a close game like this, every single free throw mattered.
The Pirates’ Collapse
The Pirates fell apart in the final seconds of the game. With 10.9 seconds left, HALL was up 65-61. It all went downhill from there, though… Jalen Terry scored a layup to bring DEP within two points. On the inbound play, Femi Odukale turned the ball over to the Blue Demons. This led to Umoja Gibson getting fouled by KC Ndefo on a three-point shot attempt. He made all three of his clutch free throws to give DePaul the lead. With 3.9 seconds left in the game, Odukale went for a layup that was blocked by DEP’s Nick Ongenda. At first, the shot was called a goaltend, which would have given the victory to the Pirates. However, the call was then overturned and ruled as a block by Ongenda. The Pirates went home losing by a single point!
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Bright Spots in Defeat
Despite the loss, the Pirates still had solid contributors in this tight game. Tyrese Samuel had a double-double with 16 points (5-9 FG) and 12 rebounds. KC Ndefo scored 14 points (6-7 FG) along with eight rebounds. Jamir Harris scored 10 points (2-6 FG) as he filled in for the injured Kadary Richmond. Nevertheless, Richmond is a crucial part of the offense, and their chances of victory would have certainly been higher if he were healthy.
Photo Credit: Seton Hall University Athletics
What’s Next for the Hall?
It’s a bitter ending for Seton Hall. Despite sweeping the Blue Demons in the regular season, they lost in the game that mattered most. From here, the Pirates will likely look towards the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) and keep striving to win what they can. They haven’t been officially selected for the NIT yet, but Coach Holloway said that they will play if they are.
Photo Credit: Idaho State Journal