The Seton Hall Pirates 2011-2012 season has come to an abrupt end.
After leading by four points with six minutes to play, the No. 1 seeded Pirates lost to No. 5 Massachusetts 77-67 at Walsh Gymnasium in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament.
“It's disappointing,” Head Coach Kevin Willard said. “Anytime you play your last game, its disappointing. I told the guys in the locker room I was extremely proud of what they accomplished this year.”
Sophomore Fuquan Edwin led all scorers with 21 points and senior Jordan Theodore had 14 points. Fellow senior Herb Pope led all players with 15 rebounds.
The Pirates controlled the first 10 minutes of the game, building a four point lead with 13 minutes to play in the half.
Theodore scored five points during the opening 10 minutes of the game. With the Hall up one with minutes to play, he drove the lane and converted on a layup while being fouled.
After missing the ensuing free throw, former Seton Hall recruit Jesse Morgan made a layup for UMass to cut the deficit to one.
Theodore responded with a three pointer to give Seton Hall the 12-8 lead with 13:25 to play, their largest lead of the game.
The Minutemen responded with a 9-0 run that saw four different shooters score basket.
Forward Terrell Vinson made a jump shot to start the run, followed by a three pointer from Javorn Farrell. Red shirt sophomore Chaz Williams added a layup on the fast break to give UMass a 17-12 lead.
After Seton Hall freshman Brandon Mobley stopped the run with a jumper, Minutemen guard Maxie Esho scored five consecutive points to pull out to a nine point lead in the first half.
UMass led by as many as 12 points in the half, but Edwin led the Pirates on a 5-0 run in the final four minutes to cut the deficit to six points at the half, 36-30.
Seton Hall chipped away at the UMass lead to start the second half.
After Minutemen forward Raphiael Putney converted on a put back slam dunk to open the half, the Pirates went on a 7-0 run to cut the UMass lead to one.
UMass outrebounded the Pirates 42-35, including 15 offensive boards in the game.
We’ve been a pretty decent rebounding team until the last couple of games,” Willard said. “You can’t really correct that on two day's rest. It’s something that we’ll definitely concentrate on for next year.”
UMass extended the lead back to four when Putney sunk two free throws. The Minutemen held the four point lead until there were 12 minutes to play in the game.
Mobley scored five straight points for the Pirates, including a three pointer, to give Seton Hall a one point lead with 10:15 to play in the game.
Seton Hall held the lead for four minutes, extending the advantage to four points on a layup from Edwin with 6:40 to play.
However, UMass quickly took control of the game.
With Theodore on the bench with four fouls, the Minutemen took the lead when Vinson and center Sean Carter made back-to-back layups and never looked back.
UMass sealed the game with 2:35 to play.
After Edwin was called for a traveling violation, Williams and Vinson knocked down back-to-back three pointers to extend their lead to seven with 1:30 to play.
“He had a couple of shots late,” Willard said of Williams. “Again, we were in foul trouble. He had a couple of big shots late on us. He’s got a great motor and keeps coming at you. He’s a terrific player. I think foul trouble really hurt us.”
Seton Hall shot 35 percent from the floor in the game, but struggled from the free throw line and the three point arch, going 5-27 from deep and 20-28 from the charity stripe.
UMass converted on 44.6 percent of their shots.
The Minutemen will take on the winner of the Drexel and UNI game that takes place tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.