The Seton Hall Pirates Men’s Basketball (12-8, 5-4 Big East) found themselves trailing by 17 points in the first half, but a strong defensive second half helped lead to a put-back lay up by KC Ndefo with 1.6 seconds left sealing an upset win over #15 UConn Huskies (15-5, Big East 4-5), 67-66.
Seton Hall was led by graduate student KC Ndefo who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds while also hitting the biggest shot of Seton Hall's season. Junior Kadary Richmond posted a double-double with 18 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. This win over nationally ranked UConn gives Seton Hall sole possession of fifth place in the Big East standings.
— NCAA Buzzer Beaters & Game Winners (@NCAABuzzerBters) January 19, 2023
How It Happened?
UConn came to Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey looking to get back on track in Big East play without Head Coach Dan Hurley who was unable to attend due to COVID-19. UConn has struggled since conference play began and this could be the perfect way for them to gain back their momentum before the final stretch of their season.
UConn came out the gate hot, surging to a big first half lead thanks to Adama Sangoo who was dominating the paint, and Jordan Hawkins who knocked down three first half 3-pointers for the Huskies. UConn looked to pull away towards the final five minutes, scorching to a 34-19 lead, forcing Seton hall to call a timeout with 3:37 remaining in the first half.
UConn found themselves heading to the locker room at halftime with a 14 point lead up 40-26. Seton Hall’s first-year Head Coach Shaheen Holloway would have to make some adjustments for Seton Hall to climb back in this game against a nationally ranked team.
He has been in moments like this in the past, when last year he led his St. Peter’s squad to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. A former point guard here at Seton Hall and his infamous Cinderella season last year is the reason Seton Hall brought him in as their new Head Coach.
Seton Hall’s comeback was sparked by Senior leader AL-Amir Dawes who scored seven straight points for the Pirates, knocking down a 3 with 16:15 to play, trimming UConn’s lead to 48-40.
The Pirates were able to get an earlier second half spark which would keep the energy alive at Prudential Center keeping the upset watch still alive. Seton Hall’s defense in the second half was one of the major factors in their comeback forcing 12 turnovers by UConn in the second half.
Seton Hall found themselves trailing throughout the entire game, but with 1:12 on the clock Richmond hit a runner in the lane giving Seton Hall its first lead of the game with 65-64 lead. The atmosphere in the Prudential Center was thunderous, but UConn was able to draw a foul which earned them free throws, gaining back their lead with 1:06 to play.
Seton Hall’s defense came to play in the second half making a huge defensive stand giving them the ball with 15 seconds to play down by one point. Holloway called a timeout, to be able to draw up the perfect play to give Seton Hall the chance to earn a walk-off victory.
Off the timeout, Seton Hall drew up the perfect play leading to an open three-point shot by Odukale which came up short, luckily the ball landed right to Ndefo who fought hard to earn the game-winning basket while drawing a foul complete Seton Hall’s comeback victory 67-66.
Can Holloway Bring March Magic Back to Seton Hall?
Seton Hall has now won five out of their last six conference games moving them to sole possession of fifth place in the Big East. Holloway's squad still has a ways to go, but if the Pirates can continue playing defense the way they did in the second half don't be surprised if you see them make a splash in the Big East tournament later next month.
Seton Hall made the NCAA tournament last year falling to TCU in the first round. Holloway's experience in March as a player and coach may be a factor in helping this experienced Pirates team jump the ship and making some noise in upcoming post season tournament.
Seton Hall is back in action on Saturday against another ranked conference team, Marquette (15-5, Big East 7-2). Seton Hall would love to continue their hot stretch through the final 11 games of the regular season which could help climb them up into the top of Big East standings.