Kenneth Cook/Staff Photographer
The Walsh Gymnasium was packed once again Friday night, as the Seton Hall Pirates (21-2) were able to cruise to a 67-40 victory over Big East foe, the Providence Friars (5-18), and extend their winning streak to eight games.
It was the Pirates’ 20th straight win at home.
Despite soaring to victory, in the first half the Pirates came out of the gates a little flat hindered by the Friars two-three zone defense, the Hall found themselves trailing not even eight minutes into the game. Thanks to a three point shooting clinic put on by graduate student Janee Johnson, the Pirates were able to build their lead.
“I thought offensively we were unselfish with the ball, we passed the ball well,” head coach Tony Bozzella said. “I also thought our offensive rebounding was good. And I thought the energy from the crowd was amazing.”
Defense was also a key for the Pirates as they allowed a season-best, 40 points, and held Providence to just 39.1 percent from the field. The defense really showed for the Pirates in the second half, only allowing a total of 15 points.
Johnson finished with 17 points, on 6 of 9 shooting from the field and 5 of 8 shooting from behind the arc. This was a big game for Johnson who was only averaging 7.9 points per game and just over one three point field goal per game this season. Johnson was also able to grab eight boards and two steals in 24 minutes of play.
Along with Johnson, Big East standout Ka-Deidre Simmons also led the Pirates with 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting. Simmons also contributed seven assists and two rebounds.
Bozzella praised Simmons’ performance after the game.
“She is just always rock solid,” he said. “Once again she did her job and did what she does. And with seven league games left there is no one better.”
With this win the Pirates are 21-2 for the first time in program history. They also improve to 10-1 in Big East play and remain at top of the conference standings, while the Friars fall to 2-10 in Big East play.
When asked about tonight’s overwhelming victory Bozzella gave credit to the home crowd.
“One of the reasons was our home crowd,” he said. “I mean what a crowd. You get that many fans on a Friday night for am 8 o’clock game. This is a tough place to win a basketball game. I can’t thank them enough.”
The Pirates are now a perfect-15-0 at home this season, and have won 20 straight home games dating back to last season, which ties a Seton Hall University women’s basketball record.
In their previous meeting with Providence, the Hall was outrebounded by the Friars. Tonight was a different story as Seton Hall outrebounded Providence 54 to 41, with 20 offensive rebounds. This was thanks in part to junior forward, Tabatha Richardson-Smith who racked up 13 rebounds and also chipped in 10 points to earn another double double for this season.
The Pirates still have seven conference games left this season and will look to extend their winning streak to nine on Sunday as they host Creighton at Walsh Gymnasium at 2 p.m.
Matthew Rachek can be reached at email@example.com.