NEWARK, N.J. — The records always get thrown out the window when rivals like Rutgers and Seton Hall take the court. At the Prudential Center on Senior Night, the 2012 grudge match between the Scarlet Knights and Pirates came down to who wanted it more.
In overtime, after seasoned veterans Dane Miller, Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope battled for 44 minutes, a freshman stepped up and decided the game.
Three seconds after falling face-first under the basket, Rutgers freshman guard Jerome Seagears received a pass from Miller and drilled the game-winning three with 13.5 seconds from the corner of the Prudential Center.
“Jerome’s poise against one of the best point guards in the Big East, six assists and one turnover, talk about a development,” said head coach Mike Rice on Seagears’ role in the 77-72 victory. “Talk about a guy who, every time I said something, repeated it to the rest of the teammates. ... He’s becoming a leader, like a point guard.”
For Seagears, who finished with 16 points, getting the first win of the month was all that mattered.
“It felt like we had a monkey on our back,” Seagears said. “I know the phrase is monkey, it felt like we had a gorilla on our back. It was definitely great.”
Rutgers and Seton Hall each made bad plays leading into the final minute that set Seagears up for his game-winner.
For Seton Hall, Pope drew what head coach Kevin Willard called a “bad call” on a moving screen violation. The foul on Pope was his fifth of the game.
The Scarlet Knights could have won the game in regulation, but Miller missed a wide-open layup that, in Miller’s words, made him look “like a doof.”
Miller made up for it, however, finished with one of his best games in a Rutgers uniform. The junior brought energy for 39 minutes and finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and no turnovers.
Miller entered the game averaging 16.5 points and 9.5 boards at Seton Hall through his career and left with the MVP trophy.
“Outstanding,” Rice said of Miller. “And he didn’t move the ball. He made such simple plays. He was the best athlete on the court and he should be that every single night to be honest with you. Maybe not against Syracuse and Marquette, but when you add the relentlessness to it, factored in, he just kept things simple.”
Rutgers (13-16, 5-11) has two home games to finish off the season and keeps its chances at an NIT appearance alive, seeking a .500 finish.