Seton Hall will attempt to bounce back from its first loss of the season when the 21st-ranked Pirates face California in the Beach Division consolation game of the Fort Myers (Fla.) Tip-Off on Wednesday night.
The Golden Bears (2-3) fell into the consolation game following an 80-60 drubbing at the hands of 23rd-ranked Florida on Monday.
Riding high in the wake of a win at then-No. 4 Michigan in its previous outing, Seton Hall (3-1) appeared on the verge of going into overtime against Ohio State on Monday after Jamir Harris stole the ball and raced in for a game-tying layup with 14 seconds left.
But the Buckeyes earned a shot at Florida in the tournament finals when Meechie Johnson Jr. nailed a game-winning 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left in a 79-76 game.
The Pirates still have a chance to escape Florida with one win, but will have to do so without Myles Cale, who suffered a strained groin in Monday’s loss.
“He’s going to be out for some time,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said of his fourth-leading scorer. “We don’t know how long … whatever a muscle strain takes.”
Jared Rhoden led the Pirates in the loss with a career-high 29 points, hitting eight of his 15 shots. He also got to the free throw line 13 times, making 11.
Seton Hall and Cal have met just twice previously, the first time in 1973. In the more recent head-to-head, the Pirates pulled out a 60-57 victory in the semifinals of the Pearl Harbor Invitational in Honolulu in December 2016.
Seton Hall will be playing a Pacific-12 Conference foe for the first time since losing to then 21st-ranked Oregon 83-70 last December. That game was played at a neutral site in Omaha, Neb., for COVID-19 reasons.
The Golden Bears played Florida on even terms for almost 12 minutes on Monday before getting steamrolled by the Southeastern Conference squad.
Cal had trouble matching the Gators’ physical play. The Golden Bears’ chief interior force, Andre Kelly, was held to nine points and four rebounds after having gone for 29 points and 15 rebounds in Cal’s previous game against Southern Utah.
When they tried to mix it up inside with the Gators, Cal coach Mark Fox noted, the Golden Bears often were whistled for infractions.
“We fouled too much, so every possession they were at the free-throw line,” Fox said of the Gators’ 18-for-21 night at the stripe. “We just got no stops.”
Jordan Shepherd paced Cal with 15 points, but got little help. He made five of his 10 shots, but his teammates combined to shoot just 17-for-40 (42.5 percent).
The Golden Bears were even less successful firing up 3-pointers, going 2-for-10. Shepherd missed his only attempt.
Cal will be facing a Big East team for the first time since losing to St. John’s 82-79 in November 2018 in a game played in Brooklyn, N.Y.
–Field Level Media
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