Men’s Basketball team’s six-game win streak stolen by Pirates

NEWARK, N.J. — Dwight Hardy may be a Big East Player of the Year contender, but Jeremy Hazell set out to prove that he’s pretty good, too.

The Seton Hall senior, who passed Greg Tynes on the Pirates’ all-time scoring list on Feb. 28, had 31 points on 9-of-14 shooting as the Pirates defeated No. 15 St. John’s 84-70 at the Prudential Center on March 3.

“I knew they’d come out and press us, so I knew if [Hazell] could handle the pressure he’d get some open shots,” Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard said.

Though the Red Storm employed their zone defense for most of the game, amassing 18 turnovers and 22 points off turnovers, it left other Seton Hall shooters open all night, as the Pirates shot a collective 12-of-18 from 3-point range.

The Pirates, feeding off their shooters, played some defense of their own, holding St. John’s without a field goal for the final 5:55 of the game. St. John’s shot 40.4 percent from the field, converting on 21-of-52 field goal attempts.

Hardy, who has been the attractive pick for Big East Player of the Year of late, finished the game with 23 points on 9-of-21 shooting, a team-high.

St. John’s (19-10, 11-6) had its six-game win streak snapped, as the Johnnies had won eight of its last nine entering the game. Had St. John’s defeated Seton Hall and South Florida on Saturday, the Johnnies would have earned a double-bye in the forthcoming Big East tournament.

“They took us to the woodshed and really waxed us,” St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin said.

That waxing led to some less-than-endearing feelings between the tri-state rivals, whose confrontation as the final minutes ticked away led to the ejections of both Lavin at 1:55 remaining and senior forward Justin Burrell with 7.6 seconds remaining.

Lavin was given a double-technical foul after arguing a call and Burrell had picked up a flagrant foul after pushing a Seton Hall player.

“[It’s] New York and New Jersey, man,” Willard said of the situation. “We all get a little chippy. I cross that bridge every day. I didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary for Seton Hall-St. John’s.”

St. John’s jumped out to a 7-0 lead to open the game but finished the half 11-for-26 from the field. The Pirates’ Jordan Theodore scored seven straight points to tie it, and took the lead a few minutes later.

Seton Hall went 7-of-11 from 3-point range in the first half, as Theodore, Hazell and Fuquan Edwin hit a combined 7-of-9. Though the Red Storm scored 14 points in the paint and had eight second-chance points, the Pirates out-rebounded the Red Storm 15-13.

“That’s the beauty of sports,” Lavin said. “If you don’t bring the effort, the brass knuckles and the A-level effort, then you’re not going to be successful in the Big East.”

Senior forward Justin Brownlee scored 12 points and had seven rebounds, and senior guard D.J. Kennedy had 11 points.

Midway through the second half, Brownlee fouled and collided with Hazell on a 3-point attempt. Brownlee hobbled off the court as Kennedy subbed in for him. While Brownlee did return, he played the final 10 minutes with four fouls, as did Burrell.

Hardy led the Red Storm in scoring in the first half as well, shooting 4-of-8 from the field.

Seton Hall (12-17, 6-11) will open the Big East tournament against Rutgers next week but finish the regular season Sat. against Marquette. St. John’s ends its regular season on Sat. as well, against South Florida at Carnesecca Arena.