The Daily Gamecock

Seton Hall spoils Gamecocks' undefeated season in Madison Square Garden

While this wasn't the expectation coming into the season, the South Carolina basketball team is simply better with PJ Dozier on the floor. With Sindarius Thornwell's absence, the sophomore point guard has elevated his game even further.

A strong performance from Dozier wasn't enough for the Gamecocks Monday night, however, as the team fell to the Seton Hall Pirates 67-64 at Madison Square Garden.

Thornwell missed his second straight game Monday since being suspended for a violation of athletic department policy. Thornwell is South Carolina’s leading scorer, rebounder and assister, but Dozier has welcomed the added workload.

"We don't have time to worry about a situation that he created for himself. This was a great opportunity for our team to win today and we didn't get it done," coach Frank Martin said. 

Dozier extended his streak of 20-point outings to three against the Pirates. His production on offense didn’t affect his defensive effort, though, as he recorded two steals and batted away countless passes. 

Both teams struggled to score early on, with Seton Hall holding a 15-14 lead midway through the first half. Dozier then led a South Carolina 15-8 run and ultimately swung the momentum into his team’s favor headed toward halftime. 

South Carolina’s 34-27 lead and momentum would dwindle entering the second half, however.

"We got manhandled in the second half, there's no other way to put it, no other way. I wish there was a different way to explain this game," Martin said.

Seton Hall quickly closed the gap and eventually regained the lead on a Maik Kotsar foul at the 12:23 mark, after South Carolina held it for nearly 17 minutes. The foul was Kotsar's fourth of the game, which sent him to the bench for nearly eight minutes. Dozier and Chris Silva kept the Gamecocks afloat during the span, though, with Dozier playing point forward at times.

South Carolina traded buckets and the lead with Seton Hall until the 1:52 mark, when the Pirates took a convincing 64-60 advantage after Silva fouled out. Senior Justin McKie renewed the Gamecocks hopes stealing the ball from Seton Hall forward Desi Rodrgiuez with 33 seconds remaining, topping off the play with two free throws to tie the game.

Rodriguez redeemed himself with a game-clinching layup with 10 seconds left. Dozier had an open look on the Gamecocks next possession, but couldn’t bail his Gamecocks out this time. 

Aside Dozier and Silva, Martin received little production from his starting lineup, most notably senior guard Duane Notice, who was held four points on 1-10 shooting.

"This might have been the worst game he's played in a Gamecock uniform," Martin said. 

This was South Carolina’s second trip to The Big Apple this season and first matchup against Seton Hall since 1974. The Gamecocks will be back in action Saturday when they travel to take on South Florida.