Cavaliers Fall to Seton Hall in Philly Hoop Group Classic Finale
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Seton Hall got the statement win it needed under Bobby Gonzalez.
Gonzalez barked at the Pirates to turn up the pressure and they did for all 40 minutes, knocking off No. 23 Virginia 74-60 on Saturday night to match their best start in seven seasons and win a share of the Philly Hoop Group Classic.
Brian Laing scored 25 points and Jeremy Hazell had 11, including a crashing 3-pointer that sent the neutral-site crowd into a frenzy, to help the Pirates win their first five games for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
“I knew it was coming, I didn’t know it was coming this quick,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez’s wife is due to give birth to the couple’s first child any day now and contingency plans were made in case he had to bolt Philadelphia. Instead, he got to watch the Pirates deliver their biggest win of the season.
Seton Hall took control early and never let Virginia (5-1) make a serious run. The Cavaliers, who jumped into the Top 25 by handing Arizona its first November home loss since 1978-79, will likely spill out of the poll.
The Cavaliers crept within eight early in the second half and Gonzalez wanted to make sure his team wouldn’t let the score get much closer. “Turn up the pressure right now! Turn it up!” he shouted from the bench at the historic Palestra.
Hazell obliged with a 3.
Hazell was fouled and knocked hard to the court on a long 3-pointer that left him sprawled on the painted “Hoop Group” logo near the Pirates bench. Instead of being extended a helping hand up, a frantic Gonzalez started slapping hands with Hazell – was that a low five? – while he was still on his back. Hazell missed the free throw.
No worries for the Pirates. They led by 10 and never let it dip below eight the rest of the way.
Sean Singletary, the Philadelphia native who earned a loud ovation during pregame introductions, finished with 23 points and Mamadi Diane scored 12 points.
The Pirates, who missed the Big East tournament last season in Gonzalez’s first year at Seton Hall, won the Independence bracket in the inaugural eight-team tournament. The tournament is broken up into two brackets, so there is no true champion.
Hazell high-fived Gonzalez on the bench as the final seconds ticked down and Seton Hall held up their trophy for their enthusiastic pocket of fans.
The Pirates were fired up early when Hazell and Laing hit consecutive 3s that gave them a 25-18 lead. Laing and Jamar Nutter each connected on 3-pointers on two straight possessions and the Seton Hall bench stood and erupted in celebration.
When the Pirates took a 33-22 lead into a timeout, a small and spirited bunch of fans near the Seton Hall bench went wild.
The Pirates came out of the timeout and blocked one shot, then forced a turnover, proving they could bring their best defense against a Top 25 team, too. Laing surprised the Cavaliers with a nifty turnaround jumper and the Pirates went up 11.
Hazell added another 3 for good measure right before the end of the half and Seton Hall took a 40-29 lead into the break.