SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. -- Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope carried Seton Hall all season, and both seniors plan on doing the same thing in the NIT.
Theodore scored 21 points, Pope had 20 and Seton Hall snapped an 11-game losing streak in the NIT by holding off Stony Brook 63-61 Tuesday night, giving the top-seeded Pirates (21-12) their first win in the event since 1956."We made an emphasis early to lead the way," said Theodore, who shot 8 of 17 from the field. "We took the majority of shots. Guys understand it's postseason and me and Pope are going to lead and be at our best every night. That's why you see us being more aggressive than you've seen in the past. That's how it is going to be going forward."Me and Pope understand if we lose we're out, and our Seton Hall career is done. We don't want to lose. We want to go out with a championship."Stony Brook, the two-time defending regular-season champion of the American East Conference, didn't make it easy. The eighth-seeded Seawolves overcame an early 10-point deficit, grabbed a couple of small leads in the second half and had a chance to win at the end.Bryan Dougher had a 3-pointer bounce off the rim with about 2 seconds to go, and Tommy Brenton had a rebound follow hang on the rim and roll off at the buzzer."It felt like forever," Dougher said when asked how long the tip hung on the rim. "I thought it was going to drop. I saw it fall off and it was immediate disappointment. I'm proud of the way our whole season turned out."Dallis Joyner had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Seawolves (22-10). Marcus Rouse added 13, and Dougher had 12.In the second round, Seton Hall will play UMass, which beat Mississippi State 101-96 in double overtime.Seton Hall took the lead for good when Patrik Auda drove the lane for his only basket and a 48-46 edge with 9:22 to play. Brandon Mobley followed with a 3-pointer and Theodore hit two free throws after Stony Brook guard Dave Coley picked up his fourth foul with a charge and then was called for a technical, fouling out with 8:07 to go.The Seawolves got within 55-53 on a jumper by Leonard Hayes with 6:04 left, but the Pirates eventually built their lead to 63-57 on a fast-break basket by Pope, who missed his next three free throws.A three-point play by Danny Carter and a free throw by Rouse with 59.7 seconds to play got the Seawolves within 63-61.Theodore missed a shot in the lane with roughly 22 seconds to go and Stony Brook called timeout and set up Dougher for a final shot."We were going for it," Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell said. "I wanted to win. With the way the whistle was being blown, we tried to win the game and not go into overtime. Danny Carter was a little off his position but Bryan got a look at it, and that's about the looks he gets, too."It didn't go in and the Seawolves' season came to an end despite a 44-23 rebounding edge, with Brenton leading the way with 13.The game was the Pirates' first non-exhibition contest at tiny Walsh Gymnasium (2,600 seats) since a 2000 game against Norfolk State."We knew this was going to be tough," Pope said. "Everybody who gets to postseason had tremendous years. It doesn't matter what seed you are in the tournament. It's win or go home. "With the win, the Pirates will be staying home, for another game.