Seton Hall 69, Rutgers 64

After giving away big second-half leads to Georgetown and

Connecticut in recent weeks, Seton Hall wasn’t about to let New

Jersey-rival Rutgers steal another one from them.

Jeremy Hazell scored 19 points and became the fourth player in

Seton Hall history to score 2,000 points and Jordan Theodore

tallied seven of his 18 points late as the Pirates (11-14, 5-8 Big

East) held off turnover-plagued Rutgers 69-64 Saturday night.

The victory came just hours after coach Kevin Willard dismissed

seniors Keon Lawrence and Jamel Jackson from the team for

violations of team rules.

”It feels great, especially this being Rutgers,” Hazell said

of closing out an opponent. ”It’s a rivalry game and we’re trying

to get who’s better in Jersey. This is just great doing it here in

the RAC, because it’s always crazy here. The fans are hyped and we

came back and pulled it out. They made it close, but we just had

that punch in us and pulled it out.”

The Pirates were lackluster in their 66-60 loss to Rutgers

earlier this season, but they played with a sense of urgency, many

times going to the floor for loose balls ahead of their

opponents.

”It was a big point of emphasis from coach,” said Theodore,

who didn’t start because he missed practice after suffering a

concussion against Connecticut a week ago in a game in which the

Pirates blew a 14-point lead. ”He wanted us to play with a chip on

our shoulders and just represent Seton Hall the right way. The last

time we played Seton Hall we didn’t represent. We just wanted to

come out here and get the win.”

Seton Hall, which also got 12 points from Herb Pope, shot 50

shot percent from the field and forced 18 turnovers.

Jonathan Mitchell, who hit a last-second, game-winning

four-point play in Rutgers’ upset of No. 9 Villanova earlier this

week, had 22 of his game-high 24 points in the second half.

Gilvydas Biruta added 18 for the Scarlet Knights (13-12, 4-9).

Rutgers coach Mike Rice was frustrated after the game, saying

his team made mistakes it had not made since early in the

season.

”You finally get people to say nice things about you and this

is how you respond,” Rice said. ”Very disappointing as far as

that goes. We build a little momentum and just didn’t have any

fight. Didn’t have much fight at all.”

The Scarlet Knights (13-12, 4-9) took their only lead of the

second half as Mitchell scored six of the first eight points to

give them a 35-34 lead.

A 12-2 run that featured six points by Pope and four by Hazell

pushed the lead back to 46-37 with 11:05 to play, but Rutgers would

not go away.

A pair of 3-pointers by Austin Carroll, a three-point play by

Biruta and five straight points by Mitchell in a 14-6 spurt got

Rutgers within 52-51 with 4:18 to play.

After Theodore and Mitchell exchanged baskets, Jeff Robinson hit

a 3-pointer and Hazell got his 2,000th point on a fast break to

push the lead to 59-53 with 2:55 to play. Rutgers never got closer

than four points the rest of the way.

”It was good, that’s when we struggled when teams made runs on

us,” Willard said. ”We did a much better job of getting the ball

inside. At least getting it to Herb to get it inside out. Even

though he didn’t have great numbers he got them to collapse.”

Hazell now has 2,005 points for his career, leaving him 54

points behind Greg Tynes (1974-78) for third place all-time on the

school’s scoring list.

”I’m just so happy and so blessed, my teammates, that’s 2000

for them, too,” said Hazell, who missed 13 games with a broken

wrist.

Willard said the total was well deserved for Hazell, who was

wounded in a robbery attempt near his New York City home around

Christmas.

”He’s the heart and soul of this program the last four years,”

Willard said. ”The young man has gone through a lot physically and

emotionally this year. He’s been here for what, three and a quarter

years; to do it in that time is amazing.”

Rutgers didn’t get much scoring help from the rest of its team.

Dane Miller, who was averaging just under 10 points, didn’t score

and guard Mike Coburn had four points.

”Offensively we were standing around, weren’t screening, doing

the things we normally do in the halfcourt offense,” said guard

James Beatty, who had eight points. ”It wasn’t their defense, we

were just being careless with the basketball.”