Sunday, December 20, 2015

FDU/Seton Hall: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

Newark, NJ -­ In all fairness, the location should be shared with Teaneck, NJ. In just over 12 hours, two venues just approximately fifteen miles (and no needed toll roads, a Garden State delight) apart saw two excellent games. One would be hard-pressed to find more dramatic finishes.

On Friday night, Fairleigh Dickinson edged Towson, 69-­68 at their Rothman Center with all of three seconds remaining. On a chilly, sun-splashed Saturday with a noon tipoff, Seton Hall held true to the ‘protect our house’ motto with an 80­-76 overtime decision over Wichita State.

The levels of play, as taken per conference affiliation, were different. The sites, on-campus Rothman Center and the public arena Prudential Center, are decidedly different in size and capacity. Still, there was a common thread permeating these two games: The home team showed great resolve and resiliency in each outing.

On Friday, FDU figured to be finished, looking at a seven-point deficit with 4:20 to go. The Knights never gave in, and possession by possession, trimmed the deficit before taking a final lead on Marques Townes’ layup with seconds remaining. Saturday saw Seton Hall battle back from double digits to force overtime. In the extra session, after Wichita State drew first blood, the Pirates immediately responded and went on to seal the verdict.

FDU’s Northeast Conference and Seton Hall in the Big East represent conferences of noticeably different levels, especially on Selection Sunday. That is not to undermine any league. As former Monmouth coach Wayne Szoke often said, “the toughest conference is the one you are in.”

These two games, so close in time, gave us exciting finishes from teams carrying the banner of their respective leagues. Resiliency, battling back, showing heart,­ these qualities go beyond conference membership.

A courtside view at Rothman Center:
FDU running their offense:
Towson huddles during a late game timeout:
FDU players greet appreciative fans following their victory:
Player introductions at Seton Hall:
Veterans honored at the Prudential Center as part of the Wounded Warrior Project:
Desi Rodriguez concentrates at the foul line before hitting the decisive free throws for Seton Hall:
Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard shows the fatigue of an arduous overtime victory:

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