NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Senior forward Herb Pope scored 24 points and collected 17 rebounds to lead Seton Hall to an 80-77 overtime victory over upset-minded Mercer on Sunday.
Pope, who has reached double figures in both points and rebounds eight times in 10 games, opened overtime with a power move to give the Pirates (9-1) a 70-68 lead they never relinquished. It started a 7-0 run, with Fuquan Edwin adding two free throws and freshman Aaron Cosby capping the run with a long 3-pointer.
Jordan Theodore, who had 16 points, hit three clutch free throws in the final minute to ice the win, including two with eight seconds left.
Mercer's Chris Smith had an open look on a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left, but the shot rimmed out, dropping the Bears of the Atlantic Sun Conference to 7-4.
It was the sixth straight win - all at home - for the Pirates, whose start is their best since the 1992-93 season, when they went 14-1 under coach P.J. Carlesimo.
All five Pirates starters scored in double figures. Edwin had 15 points and had eight steals, while Patrick Auda and Cosby scored 10 points each.
Justin Cecil paced Mercer with 18 points, while Langston Hall added 17.
Neither team scored for nearly the first 3 minutes until Bud Thomas made a 3-pointer for Mercer. The Bears led 6-4 through the first 5 minutes before the Pirates went on a 15-0 run.
Edwin began the run with a rebound basket and ended it with a long 3-pointer, giving the Pirates a 19-6 lead with 8:36 remaining in the half. Theodore and Cosby also hit shots from behind the arc during the stretch, in which the Pirates held the Bears scoreless for 7 minutes.
Cecil nailed two consecutive 3-pointers and Daniel Coursey had a thunderous rebound dunk, cutting the lead to 19-14 with 6:09 left in the first half. The Bears hung tough for the remainder of the half and trailed 31-29 on a basket by Jakob Gollon with 12 seconds remaining before intermission.
The Pirates increased the lead to 37-31 on two consecutive baskets from Theodore, a driving layup and a rebound basket, with 17:39 left in the second half.
Mercer remained in the game thanks to two long-range shots from Travis Smith, a 3-pointer and a 2-point bomb from just inside the circle, with the second shot bringing the Bears to within 40-38 with 15:30 left.
Gollon's steal off Pope, his layup and subsequent free throw enabled Mercer to regain the lead for the first time since the opening minutes, 49-48 with 11:13 remaining.
After the Pirates regained the lead for a little over a minute on baskets by Pope and Theodore, Mercer scored consecutive baskets by Cecil, a dunk and a jumper, giving Mercer a 53-52 lead with 8:42 left and causing Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard to call a timeout.
The Pirates took a 60-54 lead on a 3-pointer from Cosby, then Mercer answered with three straight baskets, the final one a power move by Thomas, to tie the game at 60-60 with 4:48 left.
Cecil canned a long 3-pointer with 15 seconds left that tied the game once again at 68-68. Seton Hall had a chance to win it in regulation, but Theodore missed a driving shot in the lane as the buzzer sounded, sending the game to overtime.