NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Seton Hall rode some unexpected shooting by a freshman and some steady plays by its seniors to a sorely needed win.
Freshman Aaron Cosby made five 3-pointers and finished with a season-high 19 points, while Herb Pope had 19 points and 14 rebounds and fellow senior Jordan Theodore had 15 points and nine assists to lead Seton Hall to a 73-66 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday.
The Pirates (17-8, 6-7 Big East) won their second straight after a six-game losing streak, picking up a big victory in one of those February games that teams feel they have to have to stay positive about postseason hopes.
“It keeps us alive,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “We don’t have an easy schedule coming up, so this win keeps us alive. We still have some work to do.”
The Pirates, who cracked the Top 25 for one week this season, have five games left in the regular season and three of those are at home.
“This is a great win,” Pope said, “Before the game we said we need one win to get it rolling again. Now we’ll see.”
Ashton Gibbs had 26 points, including 15 of Pittsburgh’s final 19 of the game, to lead the Panthers (15-11, 4-9), who have lost two straight as they try to recover from an 0-7 start in the conference.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position where we can’t afford to have setbacks,” Panthers coach Jamie Dixon said. “We can’t let any get away and this one got away from us.”
Nasir Robinson’s layup with 8:12 to play gave Pittsburgh a 61-55 lead. With 6:40 remaining, Seton Hall’s Fuquan Edwin scored on a drive but was called for a charge on the play. It was the fifth personal foul for the best defensive player on the Pirates, but the points started a 10-0 run that ended with Haralds Karlis’ 3-pointer with 4:37 to go, his only points of the game.
“I was a little nervous, because Fuquan was playing at such a high level defensively and getting him out of the lineup hurt,” Willard said. “But the younger guys like Haralds and Brandon (Mobley) played great defensively down the stretch.”
While Pittsburgh did manage just five points after Edwin fouled out, Pope and Theodore combined to score 11 points in that span.
“They had their run and we had to get us going on one of our own,” Theodore said. “The energy started going and we just stayed together.”
Gibbs hit a jumper with 3:58 left to make it 65-63, but Theodore made a short jumper to give Seton Hall a four-point lead with 3:36 left.
Gibbs hit all three free throws after being fouled taking a 3 with 1:27 left. Pope scored down low on a pass from Theodore with 30 seconds left.
Mobley, a freshman, stole the ball from Pittsburgh point guard Tray Woodall on the next possession. As Seton Hall passed the ball to waste time, Robinson was called for a flagrant foul on Pope at midcourt.
Pope, a 59 percent free throw shooter, made the two foul shots and on the ensuing possession he was fouled with 9.7 seconds left and made both for the final margin.
“I just had to get it done,” a smiling Pope said. “I guess all those extra free throws after practice made a difference.”
Dixon said he didn’t see the play when the flagrant foul was called.
“I couldn’t see it and obviously I’m not going to criticize the officials,” he said. “We wish we were in a better position than that in the first place than to be fouling at the end. We tried to foul as quick as we could and we thought we made a play on the ball. Again, the officials did a good job and called what they called.”
The Pirates went 10 of 23 from beyond the arc, while Pittsburgh went 6 of 19.
“As they seemed to make 3, we missed 3 and sometimes, that’s the way it goes,” Dixon said, adding that Cosby was the difference from the perimeter.
“He was huge. We knew he was a good shooter, but he got in rhythm early and we made some defensive mistakes on him,” Dixon said. “We didn’t guard him the way we wanted to and he obviously became a big factor.”
Cosby was 5 for 9 from long range. He said the first couple of 3s “went in easy. Then my teammates did a great job of finding me and I made some shots.”
Lamar Patterson added 15 points for the Panthers.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.