'We're going to learn from this': Stubborn Seton Hall knocks off No. 4 Michigan
Ann Arbor — After dispatching a pair of undersized opponents to start the season, Michigan was tripped up by a different type of hurdle on Tuesday night.
The obstacle: a lengthy and deep Seton Hall squad.
The No. 4 Wolverines squandered an 11-point second-half lead and faltered down the stretch in a Gavitt Games matchup, missing their final three shots and a critical free throw in a 67-65 loss at Crisler Center.
Sophomore center Hunter Dickinson had 18 points and nine rebounds but was held in check over the final 15 minutes. Fifth-year senior guard Eli Brooks scored 17 and grad transfer guard DeVante’ Jones added 11 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out for Michigan (2-1), which shot 3-for-15 from 3-point range and had two opportunities to take the lead in the closing seconds.
After Bryce Aiken drained two free throws to put Seton Hall up, 65-64, with 32 seconds left, Michigan had a chance to go back in front but came up empty on its ensuing possession as Brooks misfired on a floater.
Seton Hall secured the rebound and tacked on another free throw to make it 66-64 with 13 seconds left, giving Michigan one last shot to tie it or go for the win. On the final possession, sophomore forward Terrance Williams II drew a foul on a long 2-point attempt with 0.8 seconds left but missed the first free throw and banked the second one in, ending any hope of overtime.
"Not taking anything away from Seton Hall’s defense. They're a well-coached team. They came in, played hard and won a game on the road, but there are some times where I felt like we as a team, we didn't capitalize on taking advantage of what their defense gave us,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said.
“There were times where we just let them off the hook and there were times when I felt like we had some possessions where it's a learning possession where we can hopefully learn from. We're going to watch it tomorrow and we're going to talk about it as a team and see how we can improve."
Jared Rhoden scored 16 and Tray Jackson and Aiken added 13 apiece for Seton Hall (3-0), which was outrebounded (39-33) and outscored in the paint (34-20) but finished with more second-chance points (16) and made 3-pointers (nine) to spring the upset.
“I expected us to win this game,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “This wasn’t a shock to me. I feel we can play against anybody in the country, any night, and I think we’ve done that for the last seven years and we’ve proved it. For me, this is what the program should be doing.”
Following a first half that saw nine lead changes and little separation, Michigan started to gain some breathing room by clamping down on defense and opening the second half on an 8-1 run. Dickinson scored on a bucket in the paint. Freshman forward Caleb Houstan and Jones each hit a pair of free throws. A Brooks steal led to layup from senior forward Brandon Johns Jr. and a 39-29 lead with 17:18 to play.
After Seton Hall chopped the deficit in half within the blink of an eye, Michigan turned to Dickinson to push it back to double digits. He knocked down a perimeter jumper and threw an outlet pass to Jones for a fast-break layup to make it 45-34 at the 14:41 mark.
But once again, the Pirates responded with a quick burst and attacked the rim for a string of layups to cut the Wolverines’ lead to five before the teams started to trade baskets.
During a back-and-forth frenzy, Brooks buried a 3-pointer — Michigan’s first of the game after missing its first 11 attempts — and Williams drained another deep ball to give the Wolverines a 55-46 lead with 8:46 remaining.
Michigan, though, was the first to blink as a combination of turnovers, fouls and blown assignments allowed Seton Hall to rip off an 8-0 run, evening it at 57 on a 3-pointer from Aiken at the 4:30 mark.
That set the stage for a frustrating finish where Michigan reclaimed the lead three times but ultimately couldn’t seal the deal. After Jones drained a corner 3-pointer to put the Wolverines up three, Seton Hall countered to tie it at 60.
After Brooks scored on a floater for a two-point edge with 2:09 left, the Pirates responded with a jumper and a free throw from Aiken to go back on top, 63-62, at the 1:15 mark.
Then after Dickinson answered with two free throws to put Michigan ahead one last time, Aiken made the go-ahead free throws and the Wolverines misfired on their final two possessions.
"We're going to learn from this,” Brooks said. “We're going to sit down and see how we can fix these problems that cost us the game.”