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Rutgers men's basketball comes up short against Seton Hall

Senior guard Paul Mulcahy finished with 6 points in a defensive struggle that ended in a 45-43 Garden State Hardwood Classic loss for Rutgers. – Photo by @RutgersMBB / Twitter

The Rutgers men’s basketball team fell to in-state rival Seton Hall 45-43 in the Garden State Hardwood Classic. This was the Scarlet Knights (6-4, 1-1) second-straight loss to the Pirates (6-4, 0-0) and second loss on the week. Rutgers lost both of those games by less than 3 points.

The first half was a defensive grind for both teams. Seton Hall held the Knights to only 12 points in the first 15 minutes of the half and led 19-12. Down 7 with 5 minutes remaining, Rutgers would kick its offense into high gear. The Knights went on a 14-3 run over the final 4:50 of the half and took a 26-22 lead into halftime.

Rutgers committed nine turnovers while the Pirates committed eight turnovers in the half. The Knights scored 9 points off of Seton Hall’s turnovers whereas the Pirates scored only 4 points off of Rutgers’ turnovers. The Knights also won the first-half rebounding battle securing six more rebounds than Seton Hall.

Junior forward Aundre Hyatt led the team with 6 points at halftime, shooting 2-4 from three-point range.

The second half continued to be a defensive battle between both teams. Rutgers threatened to pull away after it took a 33-26 lead with 14:41 remaining in the second half, but the Pirates fought back and scored 8 unanswered points to take a 34-33 lead with 9:57 left in the game. Both teams would continue to trade blows until KC Ndefo made a layup with just less than 2 minutes left to give Seton Hall the 45-43 lead.

The Knights had one last chance to win or tie the game with 28 seconds left, but senior guard Paul Mulcahy could not get his shot to fall, and Hyatt could not score the putback attempt. Ndefo was fouled with not enough time to make a difference, and the Pirates got a hard-fought 45-43 victory.

Rutgers committed 19 turnovers in the game which led to a 32.8 turnover percentage. The Knights only made six field goals in the second half and shot 32.6 percent from the field in the game. They also allowed Seton Hall to get eight offensive rebounds in the second half.

Hyatt led the team with nine points, shooting 3-8 from the field. Mulcahy had a team-high seven assists, and junior center Clifford Omoruyi corralled in nine rebounds in the losing effort.

Rutgers will look to snap its two-game losing streak when it faces off against Wake Forest on Saturday. The game will tip off at 12 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network and 88.7 WRSU-FM.

"We didn't deserve to win today. Credit to Seton Hall — they played harder," said head coach Steve Pikiell after the game. "We talked about keys to the game before the game, ball reversals, not turning the ball over. Obviously, we didn't do that. We (have to) play with much more energy, and that's on me."

For more updates on the Rutgers men's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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