CINCINNATI – Slow starts have plagued Seton Hall since day one.
Saturday on the road at Cincinnati, the first 10 minutes of the game were so slow that it took the Pirates out of the game for good. The Hall lost to the Bearcats, 62-57, at Fifth-Third Arena.
UC started the game on a 10-0 run.
Bearcat guard Cashmere Wright opened the scoring with a 3-pointer and later added a layup to give UC a 10-0 lead.
The Pirates missed their first four shots and turned the ball over three times before Patrik Auda hit a jumper with 15:18 remaining in the first half to cut the deficit to 10-2.
Fuquan Edwin notched another steal to his nation-high total and scored on a fast break to make the score 10-4.
The Pirates would not get any closer until the 1:30 mark of the second half.
Cincinnati went on an 8-0 run over the next five minutes of action to take control of the game. Jaquon Parker and Ge’Lawn Guyn tallied back-to-back 3-pointers to make the score 18-4.
“We came out and played a little soft offensively again,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “That's been one of our issues that we have been doing. We missed a couple of easy shots that kind of deflated us a little bit. They did a good job of capitalizing on it."
The Bearcats shot 58 percent from deep in the half and ended the first period leading 37-28.
The second half was similar to the first. The Pirates would string a couple of shots together, but then Cincinnati would hit a 3-pointer to pull away. With 12:55 to play, Jordan Theodore hit a layup to pull the game within eight, but Wright nailed a 3-pointer to put the lead back to 11 points.
After exchanging baskets for much of the second half, the Pirate defense stepped up in the final four minutes to give the offense a chance at a comeback. The defense allowed just three free throws and no field goals for the remainder of the game.
Herb Pope scored five consecutive points to pull the Hall within six at 59-53 with 1:32 remaining in the game. One minute later Jordan Theodore added a running layup to cut the Bearcat lead to four.
After Theodore missed a 3-pointer, Dion Dixon made a free throw for UC that made the score 62-57 and sealed the victory for the Bearcats. Dixon scored a game-high 20 points in the victory for Cincinnati.
"Dion's great. I wish I had Dion,” Willard said. “I think the staff here has done a terrific job with him and putting him in great opportunities to score. He's a senior. He's tough. He's been through it. I love everything about Dion. They've done a great job with him. And, he's a terrific kid, just the way he plays, you just love watching him play.”
The Bearcats shot 40 percent from the floor and 43 percent from 3-point range in the game. They held Seton Hall to just 34 percent from the floor and 20 percent from deep.
"This is a good basketball team, Cincinnati,” Willard said. “I know people complain about their nonconference schedule, but they've got nine (conference) wins. They've got some great road wins. We knew it was going to be touch to win here.”
The Pirates return home to host No. 9 Georgetown on Tuesday night at Prudential Center.
Timothy LeCras is participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts designed to give students real-world experience.