Randy Foye drives to the basket, hits a patient Michael Jordan fade away jump shot and ‘Nova (15-15) beats Seton Hall (20-9), 61-60. It truly is March and let the Madness begin.
The ‘Cats walked into the game, knowing if they did not pull out the upset that their season would be over, no tournament officials would be calling them up offering them a seed in the NCAA, let alone the NIT. Well now (Wednesday night) ‘Nova is possibly just one win away from an invitation to the NIT and just three wins away from capturing the Big East title (have some faith).
The game was back-forth for the last 10 minutes with teams swapping baskets. However, in the first half ‘Nova had built a 10 point lead and had built an eight-point lead in the second half. However, the Pirates would not go away as they continued to chip away at the ‘Cats lead. Senior Andre Barrett led the charge for Seton Hall as he scored 15 and had seven assists, as he carried the Pirates on his shoulders throughout the whole game dribbling in out of the swarming ‘Nova defense. However, ‘Nova was able to stop him, as he was not able to hit a last second desperation heave as time expired and ran off the court.
The ‘Cats were lead by the sophomore class, of Allan Ray, Foye, Curtis Sumpter and Jason Fraser, each had 15, 13, 13 and eight points, respectively.
However it was more the story of halves, as Ray and Sumpter led the way for ‘Nova in the first half pouring in 15 and nine points, respectively. Ray was unstoppable, practically scoring every time he touched the ball, but he cooled off dramatically in the second half, being shut down by a strong Seton Hall defensive effort. Sumpter got in foul trouble and his time was limited in the second half.
In the second half, Foye and Fraser took over. The Pirates were surrounding the perimeter trying to cut off the ‘Cats outside game, so the ‘Cats went inside. Foye drove to hole and was able to score 10 in the second half. Fraser showed the dominance that he can have against smaller teams on the inside as he was a constant threat for the ‘Nova and every time he touched the ball, he was either able to draw the foul or lay it in for two. He had eight in total in the second half. He also grabbed seven boards in the game.
Derek Snowden, whose man task was chasing Barrett the whole night, came through with two big baskets for the ‘Cats. ‘Nova had built an 18-13 lead, but Barrett cut it to three with a jumper. Then Snowden took over, coming off a screen and hitting a three and then on the next position down he faked the Seton Hall defender out of his shoes and went baseline for the jumper and extended the lead to 10.
The Pirates Kelly Whitney was a force from the inside and the free throw line as he scored 20 and grabbed eight boards, 10 of those points were from the line. Those were the most impressive too, as Whitney is 56 percent free shooter. However, “he was as cool as the other side of the pillow” hitting 10 of 12.
The ‘Cats will continue to battle for a postseason spot later this week in the Big East tournament in New York at Madison Square Garden.