Rutgers, behind Corey Sanders, tops No. 15 Seton Hall 71-65
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Steve Pikiell is turning around the Rutgers’ basketball program a lot quicker than anyone expected.
Corey Sanders scored eight of his season-high 22 points in a game-ending 17-2 run Saturday, leading the Scarlet Knights to their biggest win since Pikiell became coach last year — a 71-65 win over No. 15 Seton Hall.
Many in the sellout crowd of 8,318 came on the floor after the final buzzer, with one fan telling Sanders the fan loved him. Sanders said he returned the sentiment.
“We’re one big happy family in there,” said Sanders, who hit two shots, two free throws and had a steal in the final 2:36. “They stormed the court and I don’t think that’s something that been done since I have been here. It’s a great day for everybody.”
Freshman Geo Baker added 17 and Deshawn Freeman added 12 and 16 rebounds as the Scarlet Knights (10-3) beat a ranked team for the first time since defeating No. 4 Wisconsin in January 2015. It was the last time Rutgers’ fans stormed the court, when Sanders was a high school senior.
“It was a good win at home here,” Pikiell said, refusing to label it a signature win. “It was a great environment and, again, these guys just did a real good job of staying the course and they were poised down the stretch. I’m excited, but we could play better, too. We have potential to be better.”
Myles Powell had 18 points to lead the Pirates (9-2), who had a five-game winning streak snapped in losing to Rutgers for the first time in five games.
Desi Rodriguez added 15 points and Angel Delgado had 21 rebounds for the Seton Hall, which did not score a field goal after Powell hit a jumper with 6:07 to play for a 63-54 lead.
It was all Rutgers after that as they held the Pirates to 0-8 from the field and forced four turnovers.
“When you have the enemy down, you have your foot on their neck and just keep your foot on their neck and crush their throats,” said Pirates forward Ismael Sanogo, who added 10 points. “Don’t let them breathe the air. That’s exactly what we did at the end. We let them breath and they came back and beat us. Credit to them. ”
Seton Hall led most of the game. It was up 13 early, 10 at the half and by nine after the Powell jumper.
Freeman got Rutgers going with a turnaround jumper and Sanders scored on a fastbreak. A layup and free throws by Eugene Omoruyi got the Scarlet Knights with two points and then Sanders took over, scoring six straight points to give Rutgers a 67-63 lead with 1:38 to play.
Two free throws by Powell put Seton Hall within 67-65 with 50 seconds to go.
A missed free throw by Freeman on the back end of a 1-and-1 chance gave the Pirates an opportunity to tie at 68-all. But Powell had a 3-pointer hit off the rim, the backboard and the rim with roughly 10 seconds to play.
It was a typical rivalry game for the New Jersey schools with one set of double technical fouls and a flagrant foul by Powell late.
“We’re not out there to be friends, Sanogo said. “We’re not out there to be buddy-buddy. I don’t want to be friends with these guys. At the end of the day, I don’t like anybody on their team. That’s how it’s supposed to be.”
Seton Hall: Coach Kevin Willard said the Pirates tough schedule, recent final exams and a good game by Rutgers might have caught up with the team. Usually reliable point guard Khadeen Carrington had 10 points, but was 1 of 10 from the field with five turnovers and one assists in the second half.
Rutgers: Could be a turning point. Their Scarlet Knights 10-3 record was built on wins against weak teams. This was a quality win that may carry over into the Big Ten season.
NOTES: The sellout was the first at the Rutgers Athletic Center since Ohio State was there in February 2015. ... This marked the first time the two New Jersey schools have played with one of them being ranked since 2001, when Rutgers also knocked off the then No. 22 Pirates. The Scarlet Knights got some home cooking from the officials, going 22 of 34 from the foul line. Seton Hall was 6 of 11.
Seton Hall hosts Wagner on Wednesday.
Rutgers hosts Stony Brook on Friday.