A Nail-biter in Newark

A drained Keno Davis stood at the podium after his team's Thursday night game against the Seton Hall Pirates at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. "It's a shame that either team has to lose a game that was so well-played and high-spirited as that one tonight," said Davis. Luckily for him, his team was headed back to Providence with a 98-93 overtime victory.

By Ryan Holt, Nick Hemond and Chris Torello, WDOM

The game began with the Friars taking a 8-4 lead three minutes in. Jon Kale sparked the Friars down low as he scored 6 of his 10 points in the first seven minutes of the game and helped the Friars to a 14-11 lead. Then the Friars got hot from 3-point land as Sharaud Curry and Jeff Xavier knocked down a combined five 3-pointers in the first half, which helped spark the Friars as they began to pull away. Along with these offensive bursts was the 2-3 zone defense that helped the Friars take their largest lead of the game at 41-27, with 4:52 remaining in the first half. The Pirates responded with a 13-0 run thanks in large part to sophomore guard Jeremy Hazell, who scored 11 of those points during that stretch, including 3 3-point shots.

Though there was a good amount of offense in the first half, there was also a good amount of physical play. The officiating crew whistled the Hall for a fair share of fouls, but turned some blind eyes at some rough play. The Pirates took advantage of this, forcing the Friars to make some tough decisions on the offensive end. Davis was clearly displeased with the officiating effort and made his case known earning him his second technical foul of the season.

Despite all of that, the Friars held serve. A 3-point shot by Marshon Brooks and a Weyinmi Efejuku lay-up halted the Pirates' run and gave the Friars a 46-42 edge at halftime.

The excitement continued through the second half. Defense stayed in the back seat as the Friars and Pirates traded wide-open three-pointers and jumpshots. When all was said and done, both sides shot better than 50% from behind the arc.

There were times in the second half where it looked like the Friars were ready to turn on the burners and leave the winless Pirates in the dust. But to their credit, Seton Hall never backed down. A trio of scorers, led by Hazell who finished with 30, answered the Friars' balanced attack.

Both sides continued to run, trading buckets and leads. The Friars and Pirates both clamped down a bit on the defensive end in the game's closing minutes. After he reached the 30 point mark with just over 7:00 to play, the Friars locked Hazell down, holding him scoreless for the remainder of the contest. Baskets became harder to come by for both sides, and increased physical play brought both teams to the foul line.

The Friars, who have struggled mightily from the line this year, shot surprisingly well, 31-42 from the line. The Hall, on the other hand shot 12-22.

The Pirates took the lead into regulation's final minute. With 30 seconds to play, the Friars had the ball down a point. After taking two timeouts, the Friars began to drive to the hoop. Twice their attempts were deflected out of bounds by Seton Hall. Then with ten second to play, Geoff McDermott drove to the hoop, missing a layup, but drawing a foul.

He had been there before. His team down a point, the waning seconds of the game. Once again, the Friars' fate rested with Geoff McDermott. Free throws have never been his strength. Since his game-winners against URI last month, his performance from the line has improved, but have still been far from stellar.

The first one didn't fall, but McDermott didn't back down, he didn't shrink away. He collected himself, stepped to the line and knocked the second shot down, tying the game.

There were still ten seconds of defense to play. Anyone who has seen their share of Friar Basketball over the years knows how long ten seconds can be with a tie game. The Friars dug in, and locked down, forcing overtime.

Two words can sum up the extra session for the Friars, Weyinmi Efejuku. Weyinmi took over the final five minutes controlling the offense, drawing fouls, and making their only overtime field goal, a dramatic dunk.

The Friars did their job, forcing two of Seton Hall's top scorers, Robert Mitchell and Paul Gause to foul out. This exposed the Pirate's lack of depth, forcing Bobby Gonzalez to look to a less talented bench.

The Friars took advantage and pulled out the road victory, improving to 5-2 in the Big East, just one win away from last year's total.

Though Seton Hall falls to 0-6, this is another hard fought game by the Pirates who recently have fallen to Villanova and Connecticut by single digits. This is a team better than its record, provoking thoughts of the 2004-2005 Friars who lost their fair share of heartbreakers.

There are several positives the Friars can take away from their victory in Newark. The free throw shooting is improving, the threes keep falling, and they are still committing to driving to the basket. Though Hazell scored 30, they locked him up down the stretch. The pulled out a tough win against a persistent and hungry team on the road, showing guts and grit.

There are still some things the Friars need to work on though. This is a team who continues to squander early leads, this time they just got away with it – barely. They need to work on shutting the door on teams if they want to win against the top tier teams. They also allowed Seton Hall's big three to score some major points, much like Marquette earlier in the week. The Friars have to do a better job containing their opponents' shooters.

The Friars will get a break of sorts, and they'll need it. Next week things get much tougher with dates with two top-10 teams, Syracuse and Connecticut. Stay tuned to Scout.com for complete coverage.

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