Bulls finish with 14-3 run to edge Pirates
Seton Hall's first venture into the Top 25 in 11 years probably will be a short one.
The Pirates squandered a 10-point lead over the final six minutes against South Florida on Friday night, and star Jordan Theodore missed a critical free throw in the closing seconds of a 56-55 Big East loss.
Ron Anderson scored 14 points, six of them in a game-ending 14-3 run that gave USF (10-8, 3-2) its first victory over a ranked opponent in nearly two years. Jawanza Poland made a long 3-pointer to tie it at 53 and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick's three-point play put the Bulls ahead for good with just under a minute to go.
''I don't care about the ranking,'' Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. ''The loss hurts.''
Seton Hall (15-3, 4-2) trimmed its deficit to one on its only field goal in the final six minutes. Theodore had 16 points and statistically is the team's best free throw shooter at 82 percent, however the senior missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity with a chance to put his team ahead with 3.8 seconds left.
''We had a 1-and-1 to win the game,'' Willard said. ''That's all you can ask for in this league and on the road.''
Theodore was 5 of 13 from the field and 5 of 7 from the foul line. Haralds Karlis had 12 points and Herb Pope added 10 for the Pirates.
''I wasn't able to make the free throws to go ahead. I'm very disappointed in myself,'' Theodore said. ''I didn't play a good game tonight at all. I didn't pass the ball well. I didn't shoot the ball well. I played at a pace that I normally don't play at. . . . I take the loss on myself because I think it was my job to control the game and I didn't do that.''
Poor offensive execution against USF's 1-3-1 zone doomed Seton Hall down the stretch. Coming out of a timeout during the crucial stretch in which Anderson made a layup and Poland followed with his 3-pointer that wiped out the remainder of what had been a 10-point lead, the Pirates had two turnovers and a shot clock violation.
Patrik Auda's putback with 24 seconds remaining was Seton Hall's only field goal after Aaron Cosby's 3-pointer put the Pirates up 52-42.
Fuquan Edwin scored a career-high 28 points Tuesday night to help the Pirates cruise past DePaul in their first game as a ranked team since 2001. Facing the Big East's second-ranked scoring defense turned out to be a much bigger challenge before a crowd of just 3,805 in the 20,000-seat Tampa Bay Times Forum as the sophomore was limited to four points on 2-of-5 shooting.
''They went to that 1-3-1 zone, and it really took us out of our rhythm that we had,'' Willard said, explaining what happened down the stretch.
USF tied it 27-27 at the half on a 3-pointer by Poland, who missed a critical free throw late to give Seton Hall a chance to win it at the end. The Bulls led 33-29 before going cold from the field and gradually watching Theodore and Haralds Karlis lead an 18-5 run that seemingly put Seton Hall in control.
Theodore began the push with a pair of layups, then made a long 3-pointer to put the Pirates on top for good. Karlis, a 6-foot-5 freshman from Latvia who was averaging just 3.2 points per game, added the next nine points in the surge to put the Pirates up 47-38. Cosby's 3-pointer gave them their biggest lead of the night with six minutes to go.
The loss stopped Seton Hall's four-game winning streak. The Pirates, off to their best start in the Big East since the 1999-2000 season, have won 12 of their past 14. The only other loss during that stretch was to top-ranked Syracuse.
USF won against a ranked opponent for the first time since beating Georgetown on the road in February 2010.
''It's huge. We've had a couple opportunities and didn't cash in,'' USF coach Stan Heath said. ''We knew Seton Hall was on a roll, and we're playing at home. In our league you're going to get a lot of opportunities with so many good teams. This was one, and we wanted to get them.''