Five technical fouls and a defensive battle ensued on Saturday, but the play of Myles Powell was the difference in Seton Hall handing Rutgers a bitter defeat on the road by the final score of 72-66. Rutgers trailed by 9 points at the half after shooting just 25% at the break. However, trailing by as much as 17 points, the Scarlet Knights continued to battle back in the second half, a signature trait of this program under Steve Pikiell, cutting the lead to just 3 points late in the game. However, Rutgers fell short down the stretch and dropped to 5-5 on the season.
Seton Hall started fast and led 7-2 at first media timeout. Rutgers regrouped and came back on the floor playing better defense, holding the Hall without a field goal for over 4 minutes. The freshman of Rutgers chipped in, as Harper Jr., Mathis score, and McConnell scored consecutive baskets to take an 8-7 lead at U12 timeout.
Soon after, Peter Kiss made his first basket of the game, completing an 8-0 run. Hall ended that run with two consecutive buckets, but former St. Anthony’s star and Syracuse transfer Taurean Thompson slammed the ball for a technical foul. Kiss made both, but Shaq Doorson missws both of his attempts after being fouled on an offensive rebound. He did come up with another offensive board and made a smooth hook shot to give 14-13 lead.
The issue was Rutgers was accumulating fouls at a problematic rate. Geo Baker, Montez Mathis and Myles Johnson each had two fouls at this point.
Seton Hall star Myles Powell was scoreless for more than half of the opening frame, but broke through with a transition catch and shoot three to give Hall a 18-14 lead with seven minutes left in opening frame. Powell then hit another one and Pikiell called timeout down 21-14. RU was scoreless for over three minutes and 0-9 from three-point range to start the game before Eugene Omoruyi knocked it down, cutting the lead to four points.
Despite a Kiss three soon after, Rutgers was mired in a terrible shooting slump, having made just 2 of its last 16 from the field. Trailing 28-21, Seton Hall grabbed an offensive board and Sandro tipped it out to Powell, who made a wide open deep three-pointer to put Hall up 10, its largest lead of game with less than two minutes left than half.
Caleb McConnell scored on a nice drive to end before the first half buzzer, but Rutgers trailed 34-25 at the break. They shot just 25% from the floor on 10 of 40 from the floor and made just 2 of 16 from behind the arc. The Hall shot 48% on 12 of 26 shots and were 5 of 15 from the floor. Rutgers was still in the game because they held a 16-5 edge on the offensive glass and a 16-4 edge in second chance points. Peter Kiss led RU with 7 points and Shaq Doorson had 4 points and 8 rebounds. However, Geo Baker had a terrible first half, committing 3 turnovers, picking up 2 fouls, had just 1 assist and scored 0 points.
Surprisingly, Rutgers came out of halftime showing a 2-3 zone defense, but the Hall picked up where they left off the first half. After a Powell three and layup, Pikiell called a quick timeout with Rutgers on the ropes, trailing 42-27 less than three minutes into the second half.
Powell made two free throws to complete a 10-0 run. Finally, Baker made his first field goal of the game, but he then missed a bad three on the next possession and McKnight beat him down the floor for a layup in transition to take a 46-29 lead. Omoruyi finished in traffic near the rim, but Rutgers was down 15 at the first media timeout of the second half with seemingly little hope to get back in the game.
Out of the timeout, Baker woke up and Rutgers climbed back into it. He and Kiss made back to back three’s and the 10-0 run forced a Seton Hall timeout leading 46-39 with 14:03 remaining. Powell continued to stay on fire for the home team, knocking down his fifth three-pointer of the game, but Baker made his second on the next offensive possession for Rutgers. Both teams were heating up from behind the arc in the second half, as Rutgers was 3 of 6, but Hall was 4 of 6.
The back and forth pace continued, as a Kiss jumper was answered by a Mamu three for the Hall, who led 54-44 with just over 12 minutes to play. Both teams fell into a scoring drought of over three minutes. Rutgers missed eight shots in a row, before Omoruyi knifed his way into the paint with a scoop to cut the lead to eight. Gene got to the line on the next possession and made both. Seton Hall led 54-48 with just over eight minutes to play. The Hall had made just 1 of its last 8 shots and hadn’t scored in almost 5 minutes heading into the under-eight timeout. Rutgers was playing a matchup zone at times and giving the Hall fits in the halfcourt.
Rutgers had a punchers chance heading down the stretch despite shooting at a 29% clip at this point in the game. The lead went down to five as Baker made one of two from the line. On the next possession, the Hall finally ended an almost six minute stretch without a score with a Mamu three-pointer to push the lead back to eight. Rutgers missed a couple shots near the rim, but after a defensive stop, Omoruyi made a basket to cut the lead to 57-51 with Just under six minutes to play.
With the Hall up eight and on a fast break, Kiss came up with a huge steal and layup to keep it a six point game with less than five minutes to play. Back and forth it went, with the lead stuck at six at the under-four timeout at 61-55.
After an Omoruyi free throw and Mathis layup, Rutgers had improbably cut the lead to three. Of course, Myles Powell stepped up and hit a huge three, pushing the lead back to six at 64-58 with under three minutes to play. A double technical foul was then called on Mathis and Michael Nzei of Seton Hall after they fought for a rebound, as it was truly chippy at this point. We were at five technicals in the game and Mathis had fouled out.
Powell made two free throws soon after and Baker missed a jumper. Harper Jr. came up a big steal, but missed another three and the game was essentially over with Rutgers down 8 and just over a minute to play. Seton Hall won the hard fought rivalry game 72-66.
Rutgers simply played too poorly on the offensive end to win this game. They shot just 32% from the floor and a dreadful 6 of 29 from the three-point line. They dominated on the glass, holding a +14 rebounding margin with a season high 52 boards and were very effective in holding a massive 25-8 edge with offensive boards. It led to a 20-9 advantage in second chance points, but Rutgers missed several tip-ins that could have changed this game.
Either way, Rutgers could not stop Myles Powell, who led all scorers with 28 points, including 6 of 13 from three-point range. The only other Hall player to score in double figures was Mamu, who scored 15 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Myles Cale added 8 points and 8 boards, while Nzei had 7 and 8.
Peter Kiss led the team in scoring with 16 points on 6 of 14 shooting and 2 of 7 from three-point range, while adding 3 assists. Omoruyi had 15 points on just 5 of 15 shooting. He also grabbed 7 boards and swiped 3 steals. Baker had a much better performance in the second half, finishing the game with 14 points on just 4 of 14 shooting, making 3 of 9 from behind the arc. He had 5 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 blocks and a steal. It’s going to be hard for Rutgers to beat good teams when Baker and Omoruyi combine for just 9 of 29 shooting from the floor.
Mathis scored 8 points on 4 of 9 shooting. Shaq Doorson led Rutgers in rebounding with 12, including 7 on the offensive glass, as well as 4 points. Freshman Myles Johnson didn’t score, but pulled down 9 rebounds, 6 coming on the offensive end.
Next up for Rutgers (5-5) is finals week on the academic side, followed by Columbia at home next Saturday. After Christmas, Rutgers then hosts Maine the following Saturday. This team has taken a step back on the offensive end and needs more balance to be able to win games like this. Still, the defense was much better in the second half and this team battled the entire 40 minutes. It was an ugly game and while it’s a bitter defeat to blood rival Seton Hall, this team will have a chance to win it’s fair share of Big Ten games when they rebound and exert an effort like they did and in this loss. Playing just two games in the next three weeks before conference play resumes against Maryland on January 5th will hopefully serve this team well before with so much practice time before the true grind begins.
For Dave White’s four thoughts, click here.