After trailing by only two at halftime, the Seton Hall women’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the season to No. 21 South Carolina on Sunday, 88-67.
Playing without three starters, head coach Tony Bozzella’s Pirates were led by the duo of sophomore forward Tabatha Richardson-Smith and junior guard Ka-Deidre Simmons.
Richardson-Smith had five three’s as part of her 24-point afternoon in South Carolina while Simmons, a Preseason All-Big East selection, scored 19 points with three assists.
The Hall held the Gamecocks to only 2-of-7 from the field in the early going, but 16 first-half fouls led to South Carolina taking 27 free throws to the Pirates’ five.
South Carolina began to separate itself a bit with just under nine minutes left in the first half. Aleighsa Welch put in a layup to begin what was a 9-5 run for SC. Trailing 32-26 with time winding down in the first half, Seton Hall put together a strong finish to the first 20 minutes.
Senior center Brittany Webb grinded through the paint to hit a tough shot, and after a stop by SHU, Simmons knocked down a jumper. Richardson-Smith kept the Pirates firing away with a three, which was her fourth of the game.
After a basket by sophomore guard Jasmine McCall for the Hall, Simmons hit another shot to give SHU a one-point lead. Asia Dozier knocked down a three-ball to give South Carolina a 41-39 lead heading into the break.
The Gamecocks exploded with a 14-4 run to open the second half as Tiffany Mitchell hit two three’s in less than a minute and a half to make it 55-41, in favor of SC.
With 14:44 left to play, Seton Hall tried to respond, but it was not enough. South Carolina went up 61-46, but Richardson-Smith hit a triple and Simmons knocked down a couple more jumpers to cut the Gamecocks’ lead to 61-53. Khadijah Sessions responded with a three on the next South Carolina possession as the Gamecocks were in front by 11 points and would not led their lead get cut under 10.
Seton Hall returns to action on Saturday, when the Pirates host Wagner at Walsh Gymnasium. Tip time is 2 p.m.
John Fanta can be reached at email@example.com.