NEWARK, N.J. -- Mick Cronin thought for sure he was going to get a gift from his father for getting career win No. 200 on Saturday.
"I figured 200 wins, $200," Cronin said after his 24th-ranked Bearcats beat Seton Hall 65-59. "He came up to me after the game and I said, 'Dad, where's my $200?' He's still laughing."What Cronin did get was a road win in the Big East and another 'W' for the team's record."All I care about is 18," Cronin said. "We're at 18 and we have nine to play."There wasn't anything easy about No. 18.Sean Kilpatrick scored 21 points and Cashmere Wright added 17 as Cincinnati blew almost all of a 20-point lead before holding on for the Bearcats' fifth win in six games.Cincinnati (18-4, 6-3 Big East) was up 48-28 5 minutes into the second half only to allow the Pirates (13-9, 2-7) to get within four points twice. The Bearcats, who entered the game 14th in the 15-team conference in free throw shooting at 64.9 percent, finished 21 of 27 (77.8 percent) from the line, including making eight of their last nine in the game."I thought we should have got to the line more but that's life on the road in this league," said Cronin, who has a 200-116 record in 10 seasons as a head coach, 131-92 in seven seasons with the Bearcats.Kilpatrick said the free throw shooting is getting better."Free throws are always big in close games and this conference is all about close games," said Kilpatrick who was 8 of 19 from the field and 5 of 15 from beyond the arc."Coach always tells me to keep shooting and I do and against a zone like they play there will be a lot of wide-open 3-pointers and we have a lot of guys who can make that shot."Fuquan Edwin and Brandon Mobley both had 16 points for Seton Hall, which has lost three straight and seven of eight.The big deficit early in the second half has been a problem for Seton Hall all season."We've talked about it a lot," Pirates coach Kevin Willard said. "First, it's really been our biggest issue. We're just not coming out hard at the second half. It's not just one guy. It's everybody. It's something we have to take care of.""I think they just have to learn," Willard added. "No matter what lineup starts they come out a little flat."Wright made all seven of his free throws and JaQuon Parker was 6 of 8 to lead the Bearcats.The Bearcats scored the first 15 points of the second half -- a run that had Willard call two timeouts in the opening 2:30. Kilpatrick's second 3 of the run -- after he started 2 for 7 from beyond the arc -- made it 48-28 with 15:02 left in the half.Cincinnati had closed the first half on a 14-5 run and Wright had eight points, a 3-pointer, a traditional three-point play and two free throws.Seton Hall took advantage of an offensive dry spell by the Bearcats to get as close as four points twice."In this league you're in always happy to get the 'W,'" Cronin said. "The great comeback from Seton Hall didn't surprise me, I expected it. We got the big lead too soon. I knew we would cool off eventually. I have veterans. Kevin doesn't."Edwin made four straight free throws to cap a 17-2 run that made it 52-48 with 6:46 to play. Cincinnati had one field goal over a span of 13:28 -- including missing 12 straight shots. The Pirates got to 56-52 with 3:12 to go on a 3-pointer by Mobley. But the Bearcats kept making their free throws to keep the Pirates at bay.