Women’s hoops earns WNIT bid
Seton Hall will look to continue its impressive season when they host American University on Thursday after receiving an at-large bid for the 2014 WNIT for the first time since 2007.
This will be the Pirates’ fourth appearance in the WNIT and the sixth time The Hall has reached the postseason. Head coach Anthony Bozzella led a squad that was projected to fin- ish last in the Big East according to the Preseason Coaches’ Poll to an 18-13 overall record and an 8-10 conference record that placed them in seventh in the Big East after the season.
“It means so much for the girls. They’ve really bought in,” Bozzella said. “They’ve really tried. It’s been seven years and it’s a great way to see our kids rewarded.”
The Pirates are led by a pair of high-scorers in Tabatha Richardson-Smith and Ka-Deidre Simmons. The two made their way into the Seton Hall history books by becoming the first duo to crack the top-10 single-season scoring list in the same year.
Richardson-Smith finished the season with 521 points and averaged 16.8 points per game, while Simmons was close behind with 515 points and aver- aged 16.6 ppg.
Simmons continued to rewrite history in the Big East tournament quarterfinals against St. John’s when she surpassed Kathy O’Reilly for the most assists in a single season with 159.
“She chose the program when we weren’t a winner,” Bozzella said. “We met (Tuesday) and went over goals. It’ll be nice to play in this situation. She wants to take us to the NCAA Tournament next year.”
Simmons also led the Pirates in the Big East tournament, compiling 40 total points in two games. She led the team in scoring in the first-round victory against Providence with 24, and scored 16 in the loss to St. John’s. But her 52 percent shooting from the field was good enough to land her on the Big East All-Tournament Team.
Sophomore Bra’Shey Ali recorded her team-leading eighth double-double in the first-round game against Providence, scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 boards. Ali averages 9.1 points per game and 10.6 rebounds this season.
Fellow sophomore Alexis Brown also had a double-double against Providence and flirted with a triple-double, but missed minutes in the second half due to foul trouble. Brown finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists in the game. Brown could be key in the WNIT as that was her second double-double in the past four games, where she has averaged 15.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists over that stretch.
American received an at-large berth in the WNIT for the first time, and finished the season with a 22-9 overall record and a 14-4 conference record in the Patriot League.
The Eagles are led by senior Alexis Dobbs who was named to the First-Team All-Patriot League, and is the team’s leading scorer with 13 ppg, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.
In addition to Seton Hall, six other teams from the Big East will continue to play in either the NCAA or WNIT tournament. The Pirates will host American on Thursday, March 20 at Walsh Gymnasium.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Mike Romano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.