NEWARK, N.J. (AP)—Seton Hall celebrated its first Big East victory of the season on the same day it honored its team that almost won it all 20 years ago.
“We talked for a couple of days with the kids about carving a piece of the pie for themselves,” Pirates coach Bobby Gonzalez said of the hoopla surrounding the return of the 1988-89 team that lost to Michigan in overtime in the national championship game. “We felt we could get one.”
They did by gutting out a 65-60 victory over No. 12 Georgetown on Sunday to snap a six-game losing streak.
“We scratched and clawed and fought and made it a blood-and-guts possession game. We were desperate for it and pulled it out,” Gonzalez said. “The ’89 team brought some magic to the building and gave us a great atmosphere.”
The reunion certainly didn’t bring any long-range shooting success to either team.
The Pirates (10-9, 1-6) finished 0-for-13 from 3-point range, the first time since Dec. 7, 1991, when they went 0-for-11 against Iona—a span of 504 games— that they didn’t make at least one 3.
Georgetown (12-6, 3-4) lost its third straight by shooting a season-low 32.7 percent (17-for-52), including a 3-for-22 effort from 3-point range. The Hoyas came into the game third in the conference in shooting at 48.2 percent but they shot 39.2 percent in a home loss to West Virginia in their last game.
“We’re in a rut. We’re in a bad situation right now,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “We have to figure how to get everyone in that locker room out of it. There’s a lot of time left but in this league we have to quickly regroup.”
Jeremy Hazell scored 23 points, including the clinching free throws with 8.1 seconds left, for Seton Hall but he went 0-for-10 on 3s, a far cry from his season-best 7-for-12 effort in an overtime loss to Providence on Thursday.
“I thought all 10 were going down,” Hazell said, displaying a shooter’s attitude. “My teammates kept encouraging me to take them and I did but I also found my way to the basket, got fouled and kept my teammates involved.”
Freshman Greg Monroe had 17 points to lead Georgetown and he had three of the Hoyas’ four field goals over the game’s final 16:33.
Seton Hall forced the Hoyas to spread their offense against a zone and except for a brief spurt by Monroe in the second half, Georgetown just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.
The Hoyas shot 25 percent in the second half and at one stretch went 9:31 without a field goal until Monroe scored down low three straight times, the last one part of a three-point play that gave Georgetown its last lead, 56-55 with 4:20 left.
Robert Mitchell, who had 20 points, gave the Pirates the lead for good on a short jumper 23 seconds later. DaJuan Summers’ two free throws with 1:30 to play brought Georgetown within 61-60 and even though Seton Hall committed a turnover and then made one of two free throws twice, the Hoyas couldn’t capitalize, missing three 3-point attempts over the final 40 seconds.
“Coming down the stretch we wanted to see if we could get inside or penetrate to the basket,” Thompson said. “The last two minutes all we took were 3s and that was not the plan.
“We may be in a slump but more important is the decision to take those shots. Our decision-making in certain situations has to change, has to get better.”
Seton Hall has been limited to basically a six-man rotation and the minutes were spread even thinner because of foul trouble against Georgetown.
“The first win gives you some confidence and is a little reward toward what you’re working for,” Gonzalez said. “It was huge for us today. We deserved it. We needed it. We’re limited but the players don’t know that and I’m not going to tell them.”
UNLV holds the record with a 3 in 688 consecutive games since the rule went into effect for the 1986-87 season.