Just two days after their NCAA tournament snub, Seton Hall advanced in the NIT with a thrilling 63-61 win over . The Pirates were playing in Walsh Gymnasium on the campus of , their first time playing a meaningful game on campus since Dec. 4, 2000.
“It’s amazing,” Senior forward Herb Pope exclaimed about playing at Walsh Gymnasium. “What better way to go out then to play your last games on campus in front of all of your peers and all the fans here. I was shocked when they told us we would play at Walsh, but happy at the same time.”
The Pirates were led by senior guard Jordan Theodore who scored 21 points and had 6 assists. Pope added 20 points and 9 rebounds.
“Obviously we’re over the NCAA tournament,” Theodore said after the game. “We didn’t get picked. It was tough that night, but the next day you’ve got to move on and you’ve got to get ready to come in here and play Stony Brook. The mentality is to win the championship. We didn’t get into the NCAA tournament. Ok, we got to get over it. Now we’re trying to win the NIT.”
The Pirates jumped out to an early 12-2 lead midway through the first half, however Stony Brook fought back to come within two points, trailing Seton Hall 32-30. The two teams traded the lead six times in the second half. Stony Brook had a last second chance to tie the game, however the Seawolves’ Tommy Brenton missed a put-back attempt as the ball went in-and-out.
“I knew that we were going to get a stop,” Theodore said about the last shot. “I had faith in the guys and we ended up getting the stop. It came close, but we got the ‘W’ and that’s all that matters.”
After the game, the players felt that the score didn’t matter, as long as the team won.
“I don’t think it was a wake-up call,” Pope said. “We knew it was going to be tough. Everybody who got into the postseason had tremendous years and it doesn’t matter with seeding, when you’re in a tournament, it’s win or go home.”
The game was sold out, with 1,674 fans packing Walsh Gymnasium. With the students on Spring Break, the majority of fans were alumni and South Orange residents. South Orange Village President Alex Torpey was one of the attendees rooting on the Pirates.
“It’s great seeing so many fans attending this game here in South Orange,” Torpey said at halftime. “I know Seton Hall will pull out the win and move on.”
Seton Hall now moves on to play the University of Massachusetts in the second round of the NIT tournament. Game time has yet to be determined.