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Rutgers falls to Seton Hall in Garden State Hardwood Classic

The Scarlet Knights were on the wrong end of a defensive struggle.

NCAA Basketball: Seton Hall at Rutgers Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

PISCATAWAY — Rutgers looked tight in the opening minutes. The energy and excitement of a rivalry game can lead to sloppy starts. As time went on, it was clear that this would be the theme for the Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers failed to find consistency all night long, logging 19 turnovers and shooting 32% from the field during a 45-43 loss to Seton Hall at Jersey Mike’s Arena. This marks the first time that the Scarlet Knights have lost to the Pirates on their home floor during the Steve Pikiell-era.

The Scarlet Knights (6-4, 1-1) did not have a player score in double-figures. They finished 5-for-17 from three-point range and missed nine layups. As it stands now, Rutgers has suffered a Quad 3 loss as Seton Hall (6-4) was ranked 119th in the NET rankings coming in.

In a game that was a defensive struggle over the course of 40 minutes, it would come down to which team was going to make one final play. For Seton Hall, this appropriately came on the defensive end.

KC Ndefo made a layup with 1:54 left to give the Pirates the lead. Rutgers squandered opportunities down the stretch, including missed layups by Paul Mulcahy and Aundre Hyatt with less than 10 seconds remaining. The Pirates secured the rebound, and appeared to be out of bounds, before being fouled with less than a second to end the game.

The sold-out crowd was ready for battle an hour before tip but was not given a reason to cheer for most of the night. Rutgers fell behind 19-12 early, turning the ball over nine times on its first 19 possessions. Cliff Omoruyi went to the bench with two fouls but brought some energy when he returned.

The Scarlet Knights ended the first half on a 14-3 run to take the lead heading into the break. The second half was full of runs but Rutgers was unable to find consistency on the offensive end to gain control.

Hyatt led Rutgers with nine points while Mulcahy finished with six points and seven assists.

It has been one gut punch after another over the last four days for the Scarlet Knights. A loss at the buzzer to Ohio State that the Big Ten acknowledged should not have counted is followed up by a loss to in-state rival Seton Hall at home. The Scarlet Knights will now have six days to prepare for Wake Forest on Saturday.