Courtesy of NJ Advanced Media. ©
By David Cordova
In every state, there’s that one big college rivalry. In New Jersey, the two most prominent schools are Seton Hall and Rutgers. At one time, both schools were rivals in the Big East Conference until the Scarlet Knights moved to the Big Ten Conference in 2014.
This season, both programs are doing very well. Seton Hall, the reigning Big East Tournament champions came into this game with a 9-2 record, while Rutgers, under new head coach Steve Piekell, have made a miraculous turnaround from last season came into this game with an 11-1 record, with its lone loss coming to the University of Miami (FL). Thus the stage was set for the third annual Garden State Hardwood Classic, in which the Pirates led the series, 2-0. But unlike the previous two games, this would be no blowout.
Seton Hall 72, Rutgers 61
In the early going, the home team looked very lackadaisical and Rutgers ran out to a quick 4-0 lead in the first four minutes of the half. Then the Pirates got back on track, and then took over the lead, 7-4, with 13:32 to go in the half.
The next few minutes became a battle for both teams as they traded baskets and kept the game close. The intensity of the game and the crowd heightened up the game between the two teams.
But Rutgers’ post play and their defense, as well as Seton Hall’s poor shooting helped keep them ahead, as they led by seven, 28-21, with three minutes left in the game. They then went into the half leading 32-23. In a game in which both teams’ play in the first half didn’t go so well, the Pirates were held to 8-for-33 shooting.
The second half started spectacularly for Seton Hall as they cut their deficit to five, 34-29, with 18:15 left in the half, after a basket by junior Khadeen Carrington. They then captured the lead on a hook shot by junior forward Angel Delgado with 12:15 left to go up one, 42-41.
Just as in the first half, the second half was still close between both teams. But later on in the game, Seton Hall kept on taking over, leading 56-53, with 3:56 left. The Scarlet Knights had control throughtout most of the game, but could not contain the Pirates as they continued to take over. Seton Hall would not relinquish the lead as they went on to win the game and would win the Garden State Hardwood Classic for the third year in a row.
Carrington led Seton Hall with 20 points and Delgado after a slow start, finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds. Junior forward Desi Rodriguez also added 13 points for the Pirates. For Rutgers, sophomore guard Corey Sanders led with 17 points and junior guard Nigel Johnson added 16 points in the loss.