The Seton Hall women’s basketball team landed a marquee win against in-state rivals Rutgers, 45-42 Sunday in front of a packed Walsh Gymnasium.
Starting the game off with six unanswered points, the Pirates held a considerable lead for the entire first half. The Scarlet Knights, a team boasting a young starting lineup with three underclassmen and two seniors, kept the game close, but were unable to get their offense flowing.
Throughout portions of the game, both the Pirates and Scarlet Knights went pointless. Rutgers’ defense kept the Pirates out of the paint for most of the game and forced the Pirates into four shot clock violations.
Head coach Anne Donovan said she was impressed with the way the team was able to break out of the Scarlet Knight press, but also credited their smothering defense.
“They did a nice job with their press and it forced us to use a lot of clock in the backcourt and we struggled to get the ball back in (Ka-Deidre Simmons’) hands once we got the ball,” Donovan said. “We like to run so we’re not looking to slow the ball down until the last minute in a half.”
Going into the half, the Pirates were up by seven points, 25-18. The Pirates continued their momentum after scoring six unanswered points to start the second half.
However, after some missed opportunities on the offensive by the Pirates, Rutgers came storming back with the help of senior guard, Erica Wheeler, who contributed with 10 points.
With about three minutes remaining, the lead had disappeared and the Pirates looked to guard Brittany Morris. The senior, who had a game high 19 points, was clutch in closing time, leading her team to their first victory against Rutgers in 11 years.
“We stressed keeping our composure,” Morris said about the team giving up their lead. “We came back together regained our focus and took it play by play to make sure we executed.”
With a win against a Big East team that has been consistent year in, year out, this could be a sign of things to come for this motivated and determined Pirates team.
“It’s nice now that we have a win like this and we’re looking to move forward,” Donovan said.
The Pirates are back in action at 7 p.m. on Wednesday when they travel to Syracuse for a battle against the Orange, who is receiving votes to be nationally ranked.
Kenny Lenoci can be reached at Kenneth.email@example.com.