It was a back and forth game of streaks but in the end the Seton Hall Pirates beat the Scarlet Knights 72-66 in the 2018 edition of the Garden State Hardwood Classic on Saturday. Rutgers recorded a season high 52 rebounds in the loss.
Senior Shaq Doorson drained a layup off a pass from Geo Baker nine seconds into the game, before allowing Seton Hall to go on a 7-0 run over the next 3:00. It was a first half full of momentum changes, both teams going through long offensive droughts before turning up the defense and getting themselves back into the game.
Rutgers looked a lot like the inexperienced team that it is early on the game, turning the ball over six times in the first half. The Scarlet Knights showed that they still have issues when it comes to fouls, with freshman Myles Johnson racking up three personal fouls in the first half while Baker, Doorson and Montez Mathis each had two personal fouls of their own.
Rutgers was able to stay in this game due to its insane offensive rebounding. In the first half, the Scarlet Knights had 16 offensive boards, and scored 16 points off of those rebounds. Doorson had a game-high eight rebounds in the half.
The big thing that this game showed is that the Scarlet Knights still have issues shooting the ball. Rutgers shot just 31.6 percent from the field and 6-for-29 from three. Peter Kiss lead the Scarlet Knights with 16 points, while Eugene Omoruyi added 15 points and eight rebounds.
Rutgers will go through long scoring droughts and long stretches of games when its scoring is absolutely anemic. The Scarlet Knights can stay in games because of their intense defensive prowess, but that strategy will not carry them through their Big Ten slate.
Seton Hall, fresh off an overtime win against Kentucky last weekend played flat coming out of the gate but then put together a series of solid runs to take an nine point lead at the half.
The other side of the break was a completely different story for the Pirates. After Myles Cale and Myles Powell hit back-to-back threes, Powell hit a layup to take a 42-27 lead just 2:00 into the half that forced Steve Pikiell to take a time out.
While Seton Hall went off in the opening minutes of the half, the Scarlet Knights went ice cold, shooting 3-for-7 in the opening minutes of the half. Baker had just three points 25 minutes into the ball game until the Scarlet Knights turned on the gas, going on a 10-0 run over 2:00 of play to bring the game within seven.
The big key for Rutgers going into the game was to control Powell and it seemed as though the Scarlet Knights had figured it out early. With eight minutes to go in the first half, Powell went off for back-to-back threes en route to 28 points, with six 3s in the game.
Sandro Mamukelashvili was untouchable from three for the Pirates, shooting 3-for-4 in clutch situations. Mamukelashvili also had 15 points.
Down the stretch, freshman Myles Johnson played valuable minutes, taking a hard hit before securing a Rutgers’ jump ball and playing tough defense and securing seven boards. When the Scarlet Knights started fading, Seton Hall took advantage. The game was never a blowout and Rutgers was never quite out of it, but not close enough that the momentum was pointing in the Scarlet Knights direction.
With a little over three minutes left to go, Mathis dropped a weak-side layup to bring the score within three. After Powell dropped his sixth 3-pointer of the day, things got heated between the rivals. Mathis and Michael Nzei got into a scuffle when Nzei drew a rebounding foul and they each were given a technical foul.
As the game clocked ticked under two minutes, Rutgers’ offense went cold again and was not getting the boards it needed to stay in the game. Two Mamukelashvili-made free throws gave Seton Hall a 10-point lead that would be fatal for the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers could not control Miles Powell, and its anemic offense could not get going enough to win the game.
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