SHU Pirates Lose to Providence Friars, but have a Hopeful Future
The Seton Hall University Pirates came up short Friday night and they lost to the Providence College Friars 80-74. Providence will be advancing to the BIG EAST tournament final to face Doug McDermott and the Creighton Bluejays.
Seton Hall became the talk of the college basketball world as soon as Sterling Gibbs’s last second shot went through the net to beat #1 seed Villanova on Thursday afternoon. Providence beat St. John’s in their previous game in what many thought to be an NCAA Tournament play-in game. The Friars looked to continue to strengthen their tournament resume on Friday night, while the Pirates were playing with house money and looking to continue their historic run in, and possibly, get a postseason bid.
Seton Hall did a decent job of covering Providence’s main weapon Bryce Cotton, but Friars forward LaDontae Henton “Played like a man-child,” as Providence Coach Ed Cooley described it. Henton went 9 for 13 from the field for 26 points and hit dagger three pointers whenever the Pirates were ready to make a run and cut the lead. The Friars led for most of the first half, but Seton Hall forward Brian Oliver hit a three pointer at the halftime buzzer to cut Providence’s lead to 4, 38-34. The pivotal moment in the first half occurred when Pirates Center Gene Teague picked up his second foul early in the first couple of minutes. So much of the Pirates’ success has centered around feeding the ball into Teague, and without him on the floor, or him playing tentatively, it clearly disrupted the Pirates’ offensive flow.
In the second half, the Friars continued to pressure the Pirates, which caused numerous Seton Hall turnovers. At several points of the game, it seemed as if Providence was going to run away away, but the Pirates always seemed to have a shot that would keep the Friars lead within 10. The problem for Seton Hall was that they could never put a run together to catch up with the Friars. Teague was effective in the second half, but hampered by foul problems. Freshman guard Jaren Sina couldn’t find his shot, and the team shot a horrendous 3-13 from the three point line in the second half. These insufficiencies were too much for Seton Hall to overcome, and the Friars advanced to the finals with an 80-74 victory.
Providence was led by Henton’s 26 points, while Cotton added 18 points and 10 assists. Seton Hall senior Fuquan Edwin had 20 points in his possible final game and Gibbs added 13 points. After the game, a gloomy Kevin Willard reflected on his seniors playing their possible last game and the team’s postseason plans. “When you spend time and see these guys grow, not just as players, but men, it’s a little different feeling,” Willard said. “I can’t explain the feeling; I don’t know if it’s a proud feeling, a sad feeling; it’s just a much different feeling when you take over a program.” Coach was then asked on whether or not the team would consider playing in any other tournaments outside of the NIT and stated, “No, we won’t consider the other tournaments. They’re good tournaments. They’re well run, but right now with my seniors where they are, getting him [Fuquan Edwin] healthy is my most — my number one [concern], and getting Eugene kind of ready for his next stage is probably most important.”
This team has been through ups and downs all season, but these last few days leave a good feeling and shine a light on the rising program. The Pirates have one of the top recruiting classes in the country coming in, and to have performed their best at the end of the season was a very positive sign. As Coach Willard said, “They’ve provided a solid foundation for us to build on for the future. It’s hard — young guys don’t — can’t see what they’ve helped to build, but these guys have really, through their hard work, grades, everything, helping recruiting. These guys have been instrumental in helping us go from a very unstable situation to a pretty stable situation.”
Obviously, it is hard to know how much this week will carry over into next season, but it is a sign. Good things are on the horizon for the Pirates and it won’t be the last time they’re in the national spotlight.
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