ROSEMONT, Ill. – After suffering a broken wrist and a gunshot wound, even Jeremy Hazell didn't see himself returning back to the court this soon.
Hazell scored 23 points in his first game back since breaking his left wrist and less than three weeks after the gunshot wound, leading Seton Hall to a 78-67 victory over DePaul on Wednesday night.
The Pirates (8-9, 2-3 Big East) got a lift from Hazell, a senior who broke his wrist Nov. 19 against Alabama. While recuperating, Hazell was shot outside his New York City home on Christmas as someone tried to rob him. He was shot in the right armpit.
"I didn't know I was going to play this game," said Hazell, who thought about redshirting. "I thought I was going to play two games after this, probably against Georgetown (Jan. 18), but I'm just happy I played (tonight).
"I was just happy to get back with my team. When they told me I could play, there was no holding back."
Hazell, a first-team preseason All-Big East selection, had an alley-oop dunk to make it 77-60 with 2:17 left. He scored 15 points in the second half.
Hazell said he never doubted that he would return to the court even after being shot.
"I was just blessed," he said. "I'm just happy that I'm still here playing basketball. I thank God for that."
The Blue Demons (6-10, 0-4) were led by Cleveland Melvin's 21 points and nine rebounds. Brandon Young had 12 points for DePaul, which has lost 17 straight against Big East opponents.
"We're going to come back tomorrow and work just as hard," said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. "We have to keep our poise and stay focused on what we have to do to beat a specific opponent. If we don't, it's hard to win. If we do, we'll have a chance to win games."
After Herb Pope's three-point play opened the second half, Hazell's layup gave the Pirates a 37-31 lead. The closest DePaul got after that was 41-39, but Hazell answered with a three-point play.
Pope finished with 15 points for Seton Hall. Jordan Theodore added 10.
Leading 59-52, the Pirates broke the game open with a 10-1 run. Hazell's basket gave Seton Hall a 69-53 lead with 6:37 left.
He entered the game 4 minutes into the first half with a sleeve covering his left arm and wrist. He missed his first shot, a 3-pointer, but then sank a layup and made a 3-pointer to give Seton Hall an 11-6 lead. He scored eight points in the first half on 3-for-7 shooting.
Anali Okoloji made a pair of free throws to give the Pirates a 32-31 lead at the half.