St. John’s too tough for No. 23 Seton Hall’s women

Photo by Ray Floriani

The Seton Hall women’s basketball team went without a field goal in the final 9:30 of regulation as the Pirates suffered just their second loss of the season, 59-50, to St. John’s.

It was the first time that the Hall came up short since Nov. 17 when SHU fell to then No. 17 West Virginia in Morgantown, 89-87.

“St. John’s ‘out-toughed’ us,” said Seton Hall second-year head coach Tony Bozzella. “I pride myself on resiliency and that’s what good teams are made of, but we didn’t have that. St. John’s did. And that’s why we are trying to get to the point where they’re at. Our resiliency was poor.”

The game in Queens was anything but an offensive affair, as the Pirates (13-2) shot a season-low 18-of-62 (29%) from the field and just 4-of-20 (20%) from three-point territory. Graduate point guard Ka-Deidre Simmons scored the Pirates last field goal to give SHU a 48-43 lead. The Red Storm followed by making four of six from the charity stripe in the next six minutes to cut the Pirates’ advantage to just one.

With 7:37 to play in regulation, Amber Thompson made it a 49-48 game with a jumper for the Johnnies. The senior scored 12 points, and even more remarkably tallied 20 rebounds, breaking the all-time rebounding record at St. John’s (12-1) in the process. The two teams remained scoreless for the next 4:55 before Aliyyah Handford scored with a jumper to make it a three-point cushion. It was all part of a 16-2 run to end the game.

“Our offense wasn’t good, but St. John’s had issues too,” Bozzella added. “The problem is that we didn’t play well defensively because we got upset when we couldn’t hit shots. St. John’s never did, and they were tougher tonight.”

Seton Hall made its run at the end of the first half into the second, but the Pirates just could not find enough offensive rhythm to get anything really rolling down the stretch.

The Hall closed out the final 3:26 of the first with a 7-1 surge, completed by an open lay-in by Tiffany Jones with a nice dish from Tabatha Richardson-Smith. At the break, it was 31-26 in favor of the Red Storm.

After Daisha Simmons scored a jumper in the opening seconds of the second half, Richardson-Smith knocked down a floater to make it just a one-point game. The Pirates took their first lead when Ka-Deidre Simmons hit a jumper after she came up with a steal.

Before the Pirates went stagnant, a three-ball by Daisha Simmons with 13:10 to play gave the Hall a 41-39 edge. While St. John’s tied it, Chizoba Ekedgiwe scored inside with a lay-in with 12:37 to play in regulation that started a run of five unanswered.

Richardson-Smith finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, but went 1-of-5 from three-point land and 5-of-13 from the field. Ka-Deidre Simmons had 11 along with six rebounds, but committed seven turnovers. They were the only two Pirates in double-figures while Janee Johnson, who gave SHU a boost in the first half and finished with eight points and eight boards, and Daisha Simmons (9) were the other leading scorers. Outside of them, nobody had more than two.

“I know St. John’s is an NCAA Tournament team,” Bozzella said. “We didn’t play like one, and I still hope we’ll be one.”

The Pirates’ two losses have come by a combined 11 points to teams both at least receiving votes in the AP Top 25.

Seton Hall will have a week to prepare for two more Big East tests. The Pirates host Xavier on Friday, Jan. 9 before taking on Providence in Rhode Island on Sunday, Jan. 11.

John Fanta can be reached at john.fanta@student.shu.edu or on twitter @John_Fanta and @SetonianSports.

Author: John Fanta

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