"Shorthanded" has been a word used time and again this season for the Seton Hall Pirates, and that word carried the weight of another blue and white setback in Newark on Thursday.
The Hall suffered its fifth home conference loss in six games in a 68-67 nail-biting fall to St. John’s Red Storm on Thursday night.
Seniors Brian Oliver and Eugene Teague were suspended indefinitely for "attitude issues," according to Willard. The Pirates played hard without two of their senior mainstays, but it wasn’t enough in the second straight one-point loss to St. John’s this season.
Senior wing Fuquan Edwin scored 25 points along with six boards while junior forward Patrik Auda had 15 on 7-of-11 shooting. Those two combine for 16 of the final 28 points in the Pirates’ 77-76 loss to the Red Storm in January, and left right off from where they finished in Queens that night.
With the score tied up at 67 apiece with just over 30 seconds to play, the Pirates came out of a timeout with an opportunity to get the go-ahead score. Edwin came off a screen and popped it from the top of the key. The ball hit the front of the rim, giving the Red Storm possession and a chance to win the game. The Johnnies found an open Chris Obekpa, who was fouled as he went up for a slam and made one of two from the line. Obekpa came up clutch again, batting a potential long in-bounds pass down with 1.5 ticks remaining, which then set up the Pirates with a pass from their backcourt with just half of a second left.
Freshman Rysheed Jordan came up with six of the first 14 points for St. John’s as the Red Storm rolled out to a fast start. Following a timeout with just under 14 minutes to play in the first half, The Hall looked like a different team. They broke out an 8-0 run that was highlighted by a slam dunk by Auda, leading to a timeout by the Red Storm. The Pirates would use another key run in the first half to take momentum into the break, going on a 7-0 surge to take a 32-25 lead with just over five minutes left in the first half. 30 of Seton Hall’s 38 first-half points came in the paint as the blue and white led by five after 20 minutes.
The Red Storm opened the second half just as they opened up the game, with a burst of energy. Steve Lavin’s team came out going on an 8-2 run and would lead by as many as six with just under eight minutes to go in regulation. The Hall turned up the momentum, though, breaking out on an 11-4 run that was capped by a lay-in from senior center Aaron Geramipoor, who finished with eight points. But the Pirates would be held scoreless in the last 3:10 after an and-one lay-in from Edwin.
A crowd of just over 600 witnessed the game live, as a snowstorm dropped several inches across the New Jersey area, forcing many to stay home.
The Pirates have a week off to regroup with the dysfunction as they welcome Georgetown on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 9 p.m. inside the Prudential Center.