Seton Hall Spoils Senior Day

For a second straight season, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats (18-13, 8-10 in the Big East) have come sputtering to the end of a regular season. Last year the ‘Cats capped their regular season off with a five-game losing streak. After today's 67-63 overtime loss to the Seton Hall Pirates (16-14, 7-11 in the Big East) they've now lost five of their last six to end to the regular season.

UC honored senior teammates Branden Miller and Mike Williams prior to tip off. Former Bearcat basketball player and current NFL prospect Connor Barwin was honored and thanked as well for his two years of service to the team. But after the feel-good story of senior day, the Seton Hall Pirates came aboard and spoiled the party.

Seton Hall junior guard Jeremy Hazell led all scorers with 22 points and tied for the game-high with nine rebounds. The Bearcats led by as many as 14 points in the first half, where they turned the ball over just four times and held Seton Hall to just 26.9 percent shooting.

"For the most part I thought until overtime our defense was excellence," said Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin. "Their team averages 78 points a game; they only scored 55 (today). They still only shot 34 percent for the game. Hold a team to 34 percent and 55 points you should win the game. We lost the game with turnovers and missed free throws."

The Bearcats turned the ball over 11 times in the second half, and Seton Hall finished the game with 20 points off of UC's turnovers. The Bearcats had chances to get points from the line, but converted on just 8-of-17 trips to the charity stripe.

"When you have a lead, you've got to make free throws, you've got to make lay ups, and you can't turn the ball over and give the other team easy baskets to come back on you," Cronin said.

With 4:22 remaining in the game, junior guard Eugene Harvey, who had 19 points Saturday, gave the Pirates a 52-51 lead from the free throw line. It was the first lead for Seton Hall since they had been up 3-2 early in the first half. With less than 30 seconds left and the game tied 55-55, UC junior guard Deonta Vaughn brought the ball down into the Seton Hall end of the court only to watch as the basketball seemed to plop right out of his hands.

"I wanted to pass it to Alvin right there in the middle, he was wide open but he went away from it and the ball slipped as I was trying to grab it back," Vaughn said of the play.

Vaughn sat on the bench for the final 11 seconds of regulation, and as time expired Harvey was unable to get his jumper to fall. Vaughn and the 8,877 fans inside Fifth Third Arena let out a collective sigh.

"It would have been a sad way for us to lose," said Vaughn, who scored a team-high 18 points in the losing effort. "I really didn't want us to lose like that."

Instead the Bearcats lost in overtime for just the first time this season. Cincinnati had needed extra time to settle scores against Eastern Kentucky and at Georgetown earlier this season, but both of those games ended with the ‘Cats coming out on top.

It took a minute and 46 seconds of extra time before either team could find the basket in overtime. Seton Hall led by as many as five, but three-pointers by Alvin Mitchell and Larry Davis kept the Bearcat's hopes alive. The Pirates would connect on 10-of-12 from the free throw line in the extra period, however, allowing Seton Hall to hold on for the four-point win.

"Somehow we've got to relax. We've got to relax and go play hard, and learn how to play with the lead," Cronin said. "We don't have enough killer instinct, and we don't understand you've got to put teams away when they give you a chance to put them away. That's obviously come back to bite us, and our inexperience shows at times with that."

While coach Cronin said all losses are disappointing, he called Saturdays loss more disappointing due to the fact that his team had control for a majority of the game.

"One thing that frustrates me is our inability to play the whole 40 minutes at the same intensity level on both ends of the floor," Cronin said. "When we do that we're a really good team. When we play games where we play 32 minutes, 35 minutes, 30 minutes, you cannot do that. You cannot do that and get away with it. That's where we've got to grow up."

In his first game back after tweaking a injury against Louisville, Williams scored 11 points and brought down seven rebounds in 39 minutes of action.

"It feels okay, but it's still a little sore and hurts a little bit," Williams said of his knee. "But I can play through it."

Larry Davis was the only other Bearcat to reach double figures, also scoring 11 points while adding a game-high six assists and four steals.

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