Kenneth Cook/Staff Photographer
The Seton Hall women’s basketball team (24-4, 13-3) pulled off a thrilling win over Villanova (16-12, 10-6) on Sunday as the Pirates honored their departing upperclassmen on Senior Day.
It was the team’s final home game of the regular season.
SHU trailed 36-28 at the end of the first half, but the team responded strongly to open the second. After going and back and forth for 20 minutes of play, Daisha Simmons hit a layup with just under five seconds to go to seal the 64-62 win for Seton Hall.
It was one of several clutch hits for Simmons on the day, who finished with a team-high 22 points on 9-17 shooting. Ka-Deidre Simmons added 13 points and four assists while Janee Johnson put up a double-double with 14 points and eight rebounds as she shot 4-8 from downtown. The performance drew praise from head coach Tony Bozzella
“How about the evolution of her as a player,” he asked in regards to Johnson. “A much better defender, doesn’t turn the ball over like she used to, just plays hard… She found a way to help us win.”
Tabatha Richardson-Smith and Chizoba Ekedigwe each grabbed eight off the glass as well for the Hall.
Villanova’s Taylor Holeman also had a double-double, recording 25 points and 10 boards for the Wildcats.
The game saw Seton Hall’s starters burden a heavy workload, as both the Simmons and Richardson-Smith never left the floor in 40 minutes of action. Johnson played 38 minutes while Ekedigwe got 30 minutes of action. Tiffany Jones and Kathleen Egan were the only players to come off the bench.
Prior to the game Seton Hall recognized both the Simmons, Johnson and Ekedigwe as part of the program’s Senior Day festivities. The players, accompanied by family members, were given flowers and their framed jerseys as Bozzella gave a few words.
“It was a tremendous basketball game and a tremendous crowd on a tremendous day to honor four great young ladies,” Bozzella said after the game. “I’m so proud of them and everything they have accomplished. They needed to win this last game here… It was very important to them.”
After the game the four seniors addressed the crowd over the public address system.
“Thank you,” Johnson said over and over again.
Ka-Deidre Simmons, speaking to the media after, was appreciative as well.
“The fact that our fans have been supporting my team here and most importantly, me throughout my years here, just goes to show how loyal they are,” the guard said. “Without our fans, we wouldn’t be as successful.”
With two games left to play before postseason play, the Pirates still have some work to do. The team will travel to Xavier on Feb. 27 before playing their final regular season game at Butler on March 1.
Gary Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @GPhillips2727.