NEW YORK (AP) — There was no masking the importance of what had transpired, of what the moment meant, of the opportunity grasped.
Dan Hurley and his Rhode Island Rams entered Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for the Preseason NIT with a guaranteed date against No. 20 Seton Hall. Atlantic 10 versus Big East. Mid-major against major conference. National television. Thanksgiving Day.
“It’s big for us,” Hurley said after Rhode Island’s 75-74 upset of No. 20 Seton Hall on Thursday night in the second game of the Preseason NIT. “We only get ‘X’ amount of these chances. In our non-conference it’s hard to get people to play us, home-and-home series. So any time we can get high level teams on a neutral court like Cincinnati last year or Seton Hall this year we’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Jared Terrell’s running layup with 5.2 seconds left was the game-winning basket. He finished with 32 points to help the Rams improve to 3-1. Stanford Robinson added 15 points.
“My teammates were definitely able to find me when I was open. I was able to knock down shots but I was also being aggressive,” Terrell said. “These guys know that I just want to win and they’re right behind me. So I’m just confident going into every game (because) I know I have a lot of support.”
Myles Powell led the Pirates (4-1) with 21 points. Angel Delgado had 18 points and 14 rebounds, and Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez had 12 points each.
Following Terrell’s layup, Seton Hall inbounded the ball to Carrington, who raced up court but lost his dribble and the Pirates were unable to recover the loose ball before the buzzer sounded.
“You have a player you trust in Khadeen, you let him go make a play,” Kevin Willard said. “Sometimes you have to let your senior guard try to go make a play towards the end of the game.”
Trailing by nine at halftime, Seton Hall outscored Rhode Island 27-17 in a 14:06 span to take the lead at 72-71. Carrington made two free throws with 5:54 left to give the Pirates their first lead since his jumper 5:09 into the game.
Defense was both the cause and effect for Seton Hall’s turnaround. Specifically, the Pirates played defense in the second half after surrendering 60.7 percent (17 of 28) shooting from the field – including 77.8 percent (7 of 9) from 3-point range – -in the first 20 minutes.
“For us it’s a little bit more of a defensive mentality,” Willard said. “We were really flat defensively in the first half. I can’t figure it out. We’ve never given up 60 percent (shooting from the field). …For us I didn’t like our defensive intensity whatsoever.”
The Rams regained the the lead, 73-72, on Andre Berry’s layup with 4:05 left. The lead lasted for 2:02 until Ismael Sanogo’s layup gave Seton Hall a one-point advantage.
“We wanted to get a quick throw-in a little bit closer to the key for Jared,” Hurley said of the game-deciding basket. “Usually at the end of the game if you kind of watch these game situations, it’s usually a guy getting downhill making a shot, making a play. We just wanted to make sure we had the ball in Jared’s hands. It was as good a performance I think as you have probably seen this year.”
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