HOG WILD: Seton Hall stunned by Arkansas in 77-71 collapse

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Greenville, S.C. — The unraveling was already in progress, but a hard foul turned flagrant one with under a minute to play put the icing on a bitter cake as Seton Hall fell 77-71 to Arkansas in a gut-wrencher.

At the end of the day, the stakes weren’t as high, but the loss will rank up there with Michigan and Western Kentucky in the archives of tough pills to swallow for the Hall.

“We shouldn’t have been in that situation, to be honest with you,” said Kevin Willard of the tough calls his team was handed down the stretch.

“We should never have put ourselves in that situation. We had a chance, if we just take care of the ball with 1:20 left. You don’t want to leave it to other people. We had the chance.”

And that just about sums it up.

Last season, the Hall was buried early by Gonzaga after Isaiah Whitehead started off on the wrong foot, but their first tournament win in over a decade was ripe for the taking today.

“I feel like we had the game, when we were up eight or so,” lamented Khadeen Carrington, who scored 22 but made a pair of key mistakes down the stretch.

“Last year, the game wasn’t close at all. I feel like we had the game.”

To Arkansas’ credit, they were as feisty a team as Seton Hall was during the season.

The Pirates took a lead once in the first half but a 6-0 Arkansas run put the brakes on that.

Coming out of the half tied, Seton Hall then scored five straight to take their second lead which again was answered by a 9-2 Razorback run.

Looking to harness some third-time’s-a-charm St. Patrick’s Day luck, the third time Seton Hall took a lead midway through the second half, it appeared they had wrangled a hard-fought game for good.

But Seton Hall’s first NCAA tournament since 2004 just wasn’t to be.

Let’s not confuse luck with intent, however: Seton Hall very much shot themselves in the foot.

Leading 68-62 with 6:47 to play, Angel Delgado’s fourth foul on Dusty Hannahs — a 90-percent free-throw shooter — kicked off the unraveling.

The Hall would turn the ball over four times down the stretch — and 15 times on the day — which inexcusably surpassed the three points they scored over the same span.

“I think the free-throw line really hurt us a little bit,” said Willard of his team’s missed chances.

“We had our opportunities. We missed a couple [free throws]. We missed an offensive rebound. We missed a tip-in. We missed a little bank shot. We had our opportunities.”

While that laundry list of errors is undoubtedly the root of the Hall’s downfall, it was a two-hand touch tackle plus an incidental trip from Desi Rodriguez on Arkansas’ Jaylen Barford with 18 seconds left which was flipped to a flagrant one after monitor review that left the nation talking.

“I was surprised he pushed me like that,” recalled Barford. “But I don’t know if he was trying to make a play on the ball or what, but it came in our favor.

“I thought it was no play on the ball. As simple as that,” claimed a bold Mike Anderson.

“No play on the ball, he pushed the guy down. You saw it, I saw it.”

With the whole nation — particularly Pirate fans — up in arms, Kevin Willard’s fielding of a barrage of questions regarding the call couldn’t have been classier.

“I just watched it. You know, I thought the three guys tonight did a really good job. It was a physical, athletic game. I think it’s one of those things you’ve got to, if you’ve been around the game long enough you’ve got to know time, score, you’ve got to know what’s going on,” said Willard, directing that last part at the officials and not Rodriguez.

“It’s an NCAA Tournament game. I think you really gotta understand what’s going on. But they reffed a good game all night. So I can’t really complain about whether I agree or not. I’m always going to disagree with it. That’s what coaches do.”

While the rough call is what will be remembered, it’s really the collapse which set up the officials’ decision that is at fault

It leaves a nasty taste, something similar but entirely different than what transpired a year ago in Denver.

“Knowing that we didn’t get that call, it’s sad,” said Desi Rodriguez, who was front and center.

“For our season to end that way — I wouldn’t blame it on just that last call, I’d blame it on the way we handled the ball down the stretch. We didn’t take care of the ball, we didn’t get stops. We should have never got to the point of the travel or the call.”

Featured photo is courtesy of Joey Khan/The Setonian 

  • Andrew Herbst

    This loss really hurts. We were in control, but our warts of poor free throwing shooting and turnovers came back to haunt us. Let’s hope we can learn from this and get a PG next year whether it’s Duvall or a JUCO.

  • PadrePirate

    Yup. It’s going to take a few days for me to digest this one, while I route for the other BE teams to advance. But, overall, this turned out to be a better season than I thought we’d have. The guys really turned it around at the end of BE play. I thought we hit the top of our game vs. Butler and Nova and would advance to round 2, but we just didn’t execute the last 5 min.

    The questionable call should not overshadow the fact that we just simply lost the game, fair and square. A bitter end to an overall good season, in my book. Big questions as to next year…

  • Ardy

    This stage is to big for some people and you cannot make them what they are not. This looked like the the end of the Nova game and others.KC playing hero ball and the hall losing.Hall needs a leader not a personal stat stuffer.How many times does he have to apologize to KW for coach to get the message. I wrote when KC said coach I got you instead of WE got you that it smelled trouble. IW took matters in his hands but he made good decisions and shots! The hall may have gotten the best that they are going to get from this KC.They need to start building the next group. 4 and 5 star players are watching these teams and trying to make a decision on the Hall. KW is going to have to make some decisions real soon.

  • Ardy

    BIG PROPS to the FRESHMAN MP. Good building material!!!

  • Pingback: "I’m super proud": Putting the Hall’s consecutive empty NCAA trips in perspective – SHUHoops.com()

  • hallstorm

    That was more painful than the Villanova loss. This team really wilts. It’s too bad because I felt like the presence and coaching was there. They were prepped. I needed about 5 hours of no basketball watching to let this one go. Just the same old story as the loss earlier to Stanford, Marquette, Providence and St. John’s: lackadaisical free throw shooting, careless ball handling (Angel was one of the worst offenders) and an inability to deliver in the clutch. I feel bad for saying this, but I’m looking forward to M. Jones graduating and I hope we get a college-ready point guard so that we can use Desi off the bench. His selfishness and immaturity is just not ok anymore. He doesn’t pass the ball EVER, he misses defensive assignments constantly and he struggles to hit free throws. I’d love to see Powell, Cale, Carrington and a solid point guard on the floor next year and have Desi earn his time off the bench. The kid just mopes when things don’t go his way.

    • Rich Ricci

      Before being so quick to judge Madison Jones in such a negative light, let’s remember he was essentially being asked to replace both Isaiah Whitehead and Derrick Gordon, the two most steadying influences and primary leaders from the 2015 – 2016 team with very little time to acclimate himself to the other players, which in itself was a Herculean task that practically doomed him to failure right from the start. For whatever reason, he seemed to be under a microscope from the moment he arrived here and every shortcoming or mistake was unfairly magnified and, although his teammates were called out for their own errors, they were, for the most part, quickly given a pass for even worse transgressions, even the ones made in key moments of the game. Looking at his contributions objectively, it can be argued that without him, Seton Hall wouldn’t have even made the NCAA Tournament this year and, had everyone else played within themselves to the same level of their ability in yesterday’s game as he did, Seton Hall would have beaten Arkansas comfortably and we’d all be discussing our chances versus North Carolina tomorrow evening.

      I’m thinking (hoping?) that once we take a step back and give our emotions a chance to settle own, Jones’ tenure at The Hall will be viewed more favorably and his contributions to the 2016 – 2017 season will be appreciated, and rightfully so.

  • marco

    rodriguez took way too many shots… nzei and sanogo should have played more… powell needed more looks in the 2nd half… jones was good… Carrington was fine except for really late in the game, although I don’t know if that was a travel… Delgado was okay… the big man for Arkansas undoubtedly had a great game… I didn’t know he had that kind of range… just a tough, tough loss