NEWARK, N.J. -- Seton Hall forward Herb Pope knew better than anyone that his free-throw shooting hovered below 40 percent as he stepped to the line with his team clinging to a slim lead down the stretch.
"I kept saying 32 (teammate Jeff Robinson) got fouled and I wanted him to shoot it because I trust his percentage more," said Pope, who hit all four of his free throws over the final 4 minutes to help lift Seton Hall to a 64-55 win over South Florida in the Big East opener for both teams on Tuesday night.
Pope turned in a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds as the Pirates (7-6, 1-0) rebounded from consecutive home defeats, but it was his free-throw shooting that had his teammates buzzing afterward.
"A lot of people key in on Herb because of his free-throw percentage," said Robinson, who led all scorers with 15 points. "He went up there confident, took his time and just believed they were going in."
Jordan Theodore and Fuquan Edwin each scored 11 and Keon Lawrence contributed 10 points off the bench as the Pirates won a Big East opener for the first time since defeating Rutgers to start conference play in the 2006-07 season.
"We know that when the Big East comes, it's a new season," Robinson said. "We still have those six losses but it's a new slate."
Leading 27-26 with 18 minutes to play, Seton Hall outscored the Bulls 19-10 over the next eight minutes to seize control. After South Florida pulled within 52-48 with 5 minutes remaining, Seton Hall iced the victory by making 8 of 10 free throws down the stretch.
"We did what we were supposed to do at the end of the game," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. "It was a good feeling."