BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Give Seton Hall credit. Following a heart breaker of an 86-85 loss to Oklahoma on Friday they defeated Virginia Tech, a night later. The Pirates captured third in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Barclay’s Center.
Some numbers of note:
Arguably the most frustrating note for the Hall is turnover rate. The overall picture shows they did a better than average job of caring for the ball. But down the stretch the turnovers came in succession and ultimately were the undoing. Related to turnovers was the ironic number: the Hall enjoyed a 22-16 edge in points off turnovers for the game.
Seven: The number of points Kevin Willard’s club led by with just sixty seconds to play and a possible marquee victory to be enjoyed. In the final minute, especially those last 30 seconds the Pirates became unglued and ultimately gave up their lead. And the game.
Patrick Auda, playing so well of late, left the game after ten minutes of playing time. He may have reinjured the foot that kept him out most of last season. His status is still to be determined. To his credit, Willard did not blame Auda’s absence for failing to handle the Oklahoma press the last minute. Auda could have helped but Willard realizes injuries are part of the game and he did have an effective lineup on the floor.
Give Oklahoma their due. They battled back from what appeared to be a desperate situation. Overall, the Sooners showed balance with four double-digit scorers. Cameron Clark (9 of 14) from the floor led the way with 20 points. The Sooners shot the ball well as eFG notes and hit the boards hard. They enjoyed a 32-26 advantage on points in the paint but some of those were courtesy of guard penetration.
38-2: That is not a run anyone went on or an edge in a given category. It is a breakdown of the game. For Kevin Willard there was satisfaction in a strong effort the first 38 minutes while deep concern over the last two. The Pirate coach said it after the narrow win over Kent State and again following Oklahoma, “We have to figure out how to finish these close games.”
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger acknowledged Setn Hall’s effort and the late run of his Sooners. Kruger added, “We got some pressure, deflections (the final minutes) but also got some good bounces.”
Sterling Gibbs shot 20 free throws for the game. He canned 17 en route to a game-high 26 points. The Hall shot 35, Oklahoma 32 in a game that saw 49 fouls whistled and took nearly two and a half hours to play.