NEWARK, NEW JERSEY — Earlier in the second half, an all-out effort to block a shot by Seton Hall forward KC Ndefo caused the graduate forward to crash down onto the Prudential Center hardwood, a scary fall that perfectly symbolized the Pirates’ disposition after it was steamrolled by their opponent in the first half.
Injured, yet undaunted, Ndefo stuck around long enough in the latest Big East rock fight to deliver the knockout punch during a stirring comeback.
Ndefo’s layup with 1.6 seconds remaining was the game-winning basket in Seton Hall’s 67-66 victory over No. 15 Connecticut in front of a raucous crowd of almost 10,000 fans inside the Rock. The Pirates (12-8, 5-4 Big East), once down 17 points late in the first half, have now won four straight game and have assured themselves of being at least .500 in conference play when the midpoint of their league schedule arrives on Saturday.
In terms of improbability, Seton Hall’s Houdini act ranks right up there with the best in program history, as its 17-point hole marked the biggest deficit it has come back from to win a game in 17 years. In total, the Pirates held the lead for a grand total of eight seconds, and only took their first lead of the game with 62 seconds remaining.
But dialing up the magic that they had at nearby Saint Peter’s during their improbable run to the Elite Eight last March, Ndefo and head coach Shaheen Holloway saw their team show the toughness to pull out a dramatic victory in an NCAA Tournament-like atmosphere.
Connecticut (15-5, 4-5), playing without head coach Dan Hurley and associate head coach Kimani Young on the sidelines after testing positive for COVID, were close to applying the knockout punch in the game’s first 20 minutes, knocking down seven of its 15 three-point attempts on its way to a 40-26 halftime lead. Jordan Hawkins and Alex Karaban each hit three three-pointers in the half, with Karaban’s final trey giving UConn its biggest lead of 37-20 with 3:06 remaining in the opening period.
Seton Hall’s defense stymied the Huskies from the jump at the beginning of the second half as the Huskies shot a paltry 29.2 percent in the half (7-for-24), making just two of their eight three-point attempts. Connecticut also turned over the ball 12 times in the second half, leading to 12 points for Seton Hall.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Wednesday’s game, with all photos taken by ALOST photographer Danny Suriel. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 18 pictures in total.