By DENNIS CHAMBERS GREENVILLE, S.C. — Seton Hall played in a different location than last year’s NCAA Tournament. They played a different team, they had a different seed.Everything was different this year for the Pirates, except the outcome. For the second year in a row, Seton Hall lost their first-round game in the NCAA tournament. This year the loss came at the hands of Arkansas, 77-71. The 13-year drought of tournament wins just got another year longer. However, this loss may sting a bit more than last year’s. Leading with 1:20 left in the game, Seton Hall gave up a bucket off a turnover. Fast forward to 18 seconds remaining and down 72-71, Desi Rodriguez appeared to foul Jaylen Barford — which would’ve sent Arkansas to the line and allowed the Pirates another possession after the free throws — by pushing him in the back. After the official review, it was determined to be a flagrant-one foul call.
While many voiced their displeasure with the decision, Barford thought it was the right call. “I didn’t know he was gonna foul me like that,” Barford said. “I never fell like that. I was surprised he pushed me like that. But I don’t know if he was trying to make a play on the ball or what, but it came out in our favor.” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson agreed and he isn’t sure why people feel otherwise. “I thought it was no play on the ball,” Anderson said. “That’s as simple as that. There was no play on the ball. He pushed the guy down. You saw it, I saw it.” The decision on the foul call was a stamp on what Seton Hall failed to do to close out a win Friday afternoon. Despite out-rebounding Arkansas 46-32, and 21-8 on the offensive glass, Seton Hall missed eight free throws in a game they lost by six. Seton Hall also shot worse in every category and turned the ball over five more times than Arkansas. But after all of their shortcomings, the Pirates still had the chance to win the game being down just one point with 18 seconds remaining when that foul was called. Following the flagrant, all hope of a comeback was essentially dismissed. Khadeen Carrington feels his team deserved a chance to play for the win in the final seconds. “I feel like the players should decide the game,” Carrington said. Angel Delgado said what the referees do is out of his control. “You cannot do nothing about it,” Delgado said. “You cannot go back in time and change the call. There’s nothing you can do.” No matter the opinion on the flagrant foul call, the Pirates’ players agreed that their second straight first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament hurt. “I’m just heartbroken,” Rodriguez said. “I’m at a loss for words right now, it’s just a tough way to end the season … I think this is more heartbreaking. We were held up to high expectations and we didn’t live to that.” The outcome certainly wasn’t a favorable one for Seton Hall. With a lead in the second half, especially one within the final two minutes, Carrington feels the pain even with knowing he and his teammates gave 100 percent effort. “It’s tough,” Carrington said. “Everybody played hard, everybody left it on the floor, everybody did what they did to win. For it to be decided like that is tough.” Another year ended by disappointment stings for the Pirates, and it’s likely that sting won’t subside for some time. But with Carrington, Delgado, Rodriguez, and Ismael Sanogo eligible for senior year returns, the group will use another tough learning experience to bounce back. “We just gotta get ready for next year,” Rodriguez said. “Now we know what it takes to win. Proud of my guys and we’re just moving on.” Follow Dennis on Twitter
This was called a flagrant. pic.twitter.com/IcqB89sFfP— CBS Sports CBB (@CBSSportsCBB) March 17, 2017