Rutgers uses late surge to defeat No. 15 Seton Hall
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The temperature in New Jersey’s hottest rivalry just went up a few degrees after Rutgers upset No. 15 Seton Hall 71-65 in the Hardwood Classic before 8,318 at the Rutgers Athletic Center on Saturday.
Corey Sanders poured in 22 points as the Scarlet Knights erased an 11-point second-half deficit by ending the game on a 15-2 run, snapping a four-game losing streak in the series. Seton Hall went the last 6:06 without a field goal.
The Scarlet Knights forced four turnovers in the last 3:48. Rutgers scored 18 points off of 18 Seton Hall turnovers.
“We (Rutgers) had tremendous poise down the stretch,” said second-year Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell. “We grabbed every big rebound. Very good day for Rutgers nation.”
Sanders won the Joe Calabrese Most Valuable Player award. He was 9 of 16 from the floor with four rebounds and four steals.
Rutgers defeated a nationally-ranked team for the first time since topping No. 4 Wisconsin in January 2015. In each of Rutgers’ last two wins over ranked opponents, they have erased double-digit point deficits — 14 against Wisconsin and 13 against Seton Hall.
“We’re not going to be the team that boasts and brags,” said Sanders. “We’re just going to go out and play and win. We executed our game plan, which is the reason why we got that win. It just feels good to bring it back home to our fans.”
Rutgers ended on a 6-2 burst.
Geo Baker added 17 points for Rutgers (10-3), and Deshawn Freeman recorded 12 points and 16 rebounds.
Myles Powell led Seton Hall (9-2) with 18 points and Desi Rodriguez added 15 points. Angel Delgado grabbed 21 rebounds, but was limited to only seven points. He had averaged 14 points in the last two games of this series.
Delgado entered the game with 57 double-doubles, but took only nine shots against the Scarlet Knights’ swarming interior defense.
“We tried to get him (Delgado) off the block by having four guys defend him,” Pikiell said. “We wanted to make it tough for him to catch.”
Sanders gave Rutgers its first lead at 65-63 by sinking two free throws, then hit a jumper to make it 67-63 with 1:35 to go as part of a 13-0 blitz. Sanders scored eight of those points.
The physical game featured 38 fouls, two technicals, a flagrant foul and lots of trash talking.
“I don’t want to be friends with these guys (Rutgers),” said Seton Hall forward Ish Sanogo, who scored 10 points and blocked five shots. “At the end of the day I don’t like anybody on their team.
“When you have the enemy down and you have the foot on their neck, keep your foot on their neck and crush their throats.”
Rutgers went on an 8-0 run to tie the game at 52 on a jumper from Baker with 10:17 to play. It had a chance to grab its first lead of the day, but Freeman missed one of his two free throws, and the Scarlet Knights had to settle for a 54-54 tie with 8:58 left.
The Pirates then went on a 9-0 burst over 2:27 to move ahead 63-54 with 6:01 to play. Rutgers missed all six of its shots in that time before its big finish.
Powell was 3 of 4 from beyond the arc in the first half, helping the Pirates to a 42-32 halftime edge.
Sanders deposited 14 first-half points, including five straight that got the Scarlet Knights within 38-32 late in the half.
NOTES: Rutgers was 22-for-34 at the line. Seton Hall was 6-for-11. ... 19 of the last 23 meetings between Seton Hall and Rutgers have been decided by six points or fewer. ... Seton Hall G Khadeen Carrington surpassed Glenn Mosley (1973-77) for 20th all-time in the school’s scoring list with 1,444 points. ... Pirates G Desi Rodriguez passed Brian Laing (2004-08) for 27th all-time in Seton Hall scoring history and now has 1,324 points. ... Rutgers G Corey Sanders was presented with a commemorative basketball for becoming the school’s 42nd player to reach 1,000 points. ... The Scarlet Knights lead the nation in rebounding and offensive rebounding; they had 46 and 19, respectively, on Saturday. ... Rutgers has played 13 of its first 14 games at home. ... The two schools have played every season since 1994-95. ... The teams are currently in an eight-year schedule agreement that runs through 2020. ... The crowd was the largest at the RAC since the two teams played here in 2002. ... Seton Hall leads the series, which started in 1916, 39-30.