Well, the storybook ending was being written for Seton Hall’s senior forward Jeremy Hazell. The player who has made the most 3-pointers in the history Big East Conference play received a hand off from junior guard Jordan Theodore, rose up behind the 3-point arc and with a defender in his face and buried a game-tying basket as the buzzer sounded at the end of regulation.
Unfortunately for Seton Hall fans, who have watched Hazell play a stellar four years and overcome adversity, the Pirates couldn’t pull out the victory in overtime. What’s worse is it was New Jersey rivals Rutgers who pulled out the 76-70 first-round victory to advance and play the No. 5-seed St. John’s Red Storm Wednesday at 2 p.m. on ESPN2.
It seemed that the Pirates, who were riding a two-game winning streak heading into postseason play, were peaking at the right time and it wasn’t too far fetched that SHU could make a run at the conference’s automatic NCAA Tournament invite. Though, it was very unlikely that SHU could win five games in five days in the nation’s toughest conference it wasn’t impossible. Especially, if Hazell could catch fire, which he had numerous times in his four-year Seton Hall career, and junior forward Herb Pope could play at a high level defensively.
Hazell netted a game-best 27 points, but Pope was basically invisible, tallying just six points, four rebounds and fouling out in OT. But that’s how things go in Newark, N.J. It’s nothing new to Pirates fans who have witnessed just two Big East Tournament victories in seven seasons. Again, what’s worse is that Hazell’s SHU campaign was ended by a Rutgers program that looks to be on the rise under first-year head coach Mike Rice. For now, the state of New Jersey belongs to the Scarlet Knights.
As for Hazell’s finale, SB Nation’s South Orange Juice summed it up best:
"Words cannot express what a shame it is that Hazell’s career ends without experiencing an NCAA Tournament. He deserved better. I can’t wait to watch Jeremy in the NBA, when you’ve got that distance and that heart, he’s going to make it. We wish you well, Jeremy."