NEWARK -- With 45 seconds remaining in a nip-and-tuck game between bitter in-state rivals, Jeremy Hazell drove into the paint and elevated between two taller defenders, only to let loose a soft floater that fell effortlessly through the net and extended his team's lead to six points.
Hazell, a 6-foot-5 sophomore who more and more looks like he could have a future in the NBA, overcame a slow start and ultimately proved too dominant a force for Rutgers to overcome.
Seton Hall's go-to guy scored 28 of his career-high-tying 35 points in the second half to lead the Pirates to their second straight Big East victory by the count of 70-67 over Rutgers before a nationally televised audience and 8,390 at The Prudential Center. Rutgers lost its ninth straight game dating to a Dec. 23 victory over NJIT.
"I just wanted the ball in my hands at the end of the game and [my teammates] found a way to do that so it worked out for us and we got the W," Hazell said. "We pulled it off and we won two games in a row so it feels good going into the St. John's game."
The No. 2 scorer in the Big East, Hazell scored 12 of Seton Hall's last 15 points and 28 of its 44 after the break. He converted 10-of-17 from the floor and was 12-of-13 from the line. He also led both teams with 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Eugene Harvey, who missed three days of practice with strep throat, added nine points and nine assists.
"Obviously, it was an important win for us," said Pirates coach Bobby Gonzalez, whose team improved to 11-9, 2-6 in the Big East. "Anytime you're trying to win two in a row in the Big East Conference, it's an important win. The way we're going to win is that way right there, by scratching and clawing. Obviously, Jeremy Hazell was absolutely spectacular."
Hazell's performance overcame a heroic effort by Rutgers freshman guard Mike Rosario, who led his team with 25 points on 7-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-11 from beyond the arc. Greg Echenique scored all 13 of his points in the second half and also added eight rebounds. Anthony Farmer added 11 points and Corey Chandler 10.
With 8.6 seconds left, Robert Stix Mitchell (11 points) fouled Rosario in the process of shooting a 3-pointer and Rosario hit two of three to cut the Seton Hall lead to 70-67. Had Rosario, the leading free throw shooter in the Big East, made the second foul shot, it would have been a two-point game.
"He feels bad that he missed one," Rutgers coach Fred Hill said of the second foul shot.
Rutgers had one last shot to force overtime in the final 5.2 seconds, but Rosario could not get off a 3-point attempt as time expired.
"We were going to put the ball in our senior's hands, Anthony Farmer," Hill said. "We have a play that we run that gives us two guys in the corner for 3's or he's going to have a chance to get one himself at the top."
"[Farmer] just fell and lost the ball. We got a bobble and there just wasn't enough time for Mike Rosario to get a shot off."
Rutgers (9-12, 0-8) remains one of two conference teams without a victory. DePaul (8-13, 0-8) is the other and visits the RAC on Saturday night in a battle of basement dwellers.
"It's just an unforgiving league," Hill said. "Were 0-8 and you guys [the media] talk about it. It becomes almost must-win situations. That's what you will make the DePaul game and we've got to handle that."
Seton Hall, which was coming off Sunday's win over then-No. 12 Georgetown, plays St. John's, DePaul and Rutgers in its next three games and has a golden chance to put together a mini-run. Those three teams are a combined 2-22 in the conference.
"Sometimes you get on a roll," Gonzalez said. "When you win, you find ways to win. When you lose you find ways to lose."
In this game, Seton Hall found a way to win.
"It wasn't pretty," Gonzalez said. "It was no oil painting as they say but these games never are. They never are for some reason."
Notes: Gonzalez said Seton Hall sold 1,300 student tickets, including 500 the day of the game. Seton Hall now leads the rivalry 30-24, including a 15-10 edge since Rutgers joined the Big East in 1995. ... Rutgers is 3-14 on the road in the series. ... Rutgers' two frontcourt players, Echenique and Hamady NDiaye, failed to make a field goal in the first half, going a combined 0-for-2. ... Former Rutgers AD Bob Mulcahy made yet another appearance at a Seton Hall game. ... Former Seton Hall greats Terry Dehere, Jerry Walker, Shaheen Holloway and Luther Wright all sat courtside. Wright -- all 340 pounds of him -- took up a cushy seat placed courtside.