Seton Hall, Dawes, NIT
Photo Credit: Charlie Wall

Seton Hall Triumphs over Indiana State in NIT Championship

It wasn't always smooth sailing with a packed crowd at a neutral site mainly rooting for the other team, but the Seton Hall Pirates men's basketball team got it done.

The Pirates won their first NIT Championship since 1953 on Thursday night by defeating Indiana State 79-77.

Throughout most of the game, the two teams kept pace with each other. The Indiana State Sycamores opened up their biggest lead of the game, 77-70 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. But Shaheen Holloway’s Pirates didn’t blink.

They came back with a 9-0 run which started with a scrum for a loose ball underneath Indiana State’s basket. Eventually, Kadary Richmond emerged with the ball for Seton Hall, laying it into the basket off the glass to cut the deficit to 77-72.

Seton Hall kept Indiana State from scoring on their next possession and on Seton Hall’s next possession, Al-Amir Dawes was fouled. The Newark, New Jersey native headed to the free throw line where he would make both shots to cut Indiana State’s lead to 77-74.

When Indiana State could not score on their next possession, the ball ended up in Dawes’ hands again. After receiving a pass from Richmond, behind the 3-point arc, Dawes sank his third 3-pointer of the night to tie the game at 77.

When Indiana State again could not convert on their next possession, Seton Hall took advantage. They took advantage with Dre Davis weaving his way to the net for a lay-up which put Seton Hall in front 79-77.

On the next possession for Indiana State, the Sycamores ended up with an inbound with 8 seconds left in the game. They passed it to their best shooter Isaiah Swope whose shot from beyond the 3-point line was blocked by Seton Hall's Jaden Bediako. Indiana State managed to get the ball back and heave a last ditch shot from well behind the three-point line, but it hit off the rim and came out and Seton Hall ended up holding on to win the championship.

For Seton Hall, three players were named to the NIT All-Tournament Team and they were New Jersey native Al-Amir Dawes, as well as Kadary Richmond and Dre Davis. Dawes was named the NIT's Most Outstanding Player.

Dawes led all players in the championship game with 24 points, Richmond had a double-double (21 points, 13 rebounds) and Davis had 18 points to go along with three blocks in front of his hometown crowd.

For Indiana State, four players scored in double figures with Isaiah Swope leading the way with 19 points.

During the postgame press conference, Seton Hall guard, Al-Amir Dawes discussed what it took for his team to give a full 40-minute effort against a tough opponent inside what ended up being a road environment due to the hometown crowd that turned out to Hinkle Fieldhouse.

We just gutted it out the whole way. We knew it was going to be a fight, Indiana State is a hell of a team. We played with a lot of passion and we had to stay locked in the whole 40. We knew they were going to make runs; we were going to make runs. We knew that we wanted it more. So, everything happened and we came out on top. - Al-Amir Dawes

Kadary Richmond, the senior from Brooklyn, touched on what winning the NIT will mean towards the legacy of his senior class at Seton Hall.

I feel like we left a lot of players, the nay sayers, we left them with something to remember. The people at Seton Hall, the history with winning and playing in April, I feel like we left our mark in there and we also opened the doors for the underdog players who are being recruited by Seton Hall and don’t feel as if anybody else is giving them a chance. This is a great place to come and play your game and be who you are. - Kadary Richmond

The game went right down to the wire, with Bediako's block sealing the deal for Seton Hall. Coach Holloway described what he's seen from his center throughout the NIT tournament and why he was a special contributor to the team.

It’s a full circle moment. I remember NJIT game, after the game, all the questions about our ‘Bigs’ going to be good enough to play in this league and so for [Bediako] to end it on a block it’s a stamp of what he’s done all year long for us. Give us everything he had, every time he played on that court. These last two days, he’s sick. He’s out there playing. Those are the type of guys who do well with me. - Shaheen Holloway

Holloway ended the press conference by shedding some light on what he and his team have been through over the last month, going from NCAA tournament rejects to champions of the 2024 Men's NIT Tournament.

If you guys seen the look on these guys’ faces when we didn’t make the tournament and as their leader, not knowing what to say to them it was the worst feeling in the world…From that to going in and getting drenched by those guys, it’s the best feeling in the world. - Shaheen Holloway

Anthony Paradiso
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