Three days removed from a 39-point domination in their season opener, Seton Hall started out rocky, but ultimately recovered.
With double-doubles from Fuquan Edwin (23 points, 10 rebounds) and Gene Teague, (16 points, 11 rebounds) the Pirates were able to use that offensive productivity and stifling defense to improve to 2-0, defeating reigning NCAA Tournament darling Norfolk State (1-1) by the final of 78-65 tonight at the Prudential Center.
"I'm very happy with where we're at defensively," said Pirates coach Kevin Willard, whose team held Norfolk State to a 32 percent (18-for-56) shooting clip from the field. "I thought this team would be way behind on defense."
Through the first half and beginning of the second, defense was what kept the Pirates ahead. Norfolk State took a brief lead late in the period, but a three-pointer from freshman point guard Tom Maayan started a 9-4 run that ultimately gave Seton Hall the lead for good after both foul trouble and cold outside shooting plagued the Spartans throughout the night.
For Edwin, who led the nation in steals last season and had six more thefts tonight, his 23-point outing was a positive sign, but his coach pointed out his precocity after the game. "He has to let the game come to him a little more early in the game," said Willard, implying that the former Paterson Catholic star; who is the last remaining link Seton Hall has to former coach Bobby Gonzalez, may be trying to do a little too much early on.
Former Iona sharpshooter Kyle Smyth, who transferred to Seton Hall after graduating in the offseason, added 14 points off the bench; all but two of which came on three-pointers, while Patrik Auda and Aaron Cosby chipped in with eight each. Cosby, the Louisville product who played alongside Jordan Theodore in the Pirate backcourt last year, was making his season debut after the knee injury he suffered shortly before the start of practice in October kept him from taking part in Friday's victory over UMKC. Pendarvis Williams led Norfolk State with 20 points as the Spartans could not replicate their winning ways of Friday night, when they defeated Dan Hurley and Rhode Island.
Seton Hall next heads to Mohegan Sun to participate in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, which begins Saturday night against Lorenzo Romar and Washington in a 7:30 start time. The Pirates will then face either Ohio State or Rhode Island on Sunday to complete the tournament.