The undefeated run to start the season came to an end when the Seton Hall women’s basketball team was handed its first loss by the Georgia Bulldogs, 70-52, at the Stegeman Coliseum in Atlanta on Sunday.
The Pirates were undefeated through their first seven games, marking the longest stretch to start a season without a loss since 1989-90. In beating SHU, Georgia earned its first win against a ranked opponent this season.
Georgia was down at halftime, but wound up tightening its defensive play and propelling itself past the Pirates thanks to the senior tandem of Shacobia Barbee and Tiaria Griffin, who combined for 34 points and 15 rebounds.
On top of that, the Bulldogs put on a defensive clinic, most notably in the second half. Georgia held the Pirates to an abysmal 16 percent shooting from the field, giving up just 19 points in the final 20 minutes. The Bulldogs also dominated the boards, out-rebounding Seton Hall 49-37. Griffin grabbed eight boards, while Barbee and Merritt Hempe each collected seven.
The Pirates were playing well in the first half, trading scoring runs with Georgia and eventually heading into the break with a three-point lead. Seton Hall got 16 points from the bench in the first half, including seven from freshman Taylor Byrne.
But the Bulldogs started the third quarter with an 8-0 run, eventually extending that to a 20-7 run. Partner that with the strong defensive effort, along with winning the rebound and turnover battle, and Seton Hall could not come back.
Tabatha Richardson-Smith led all SHU players with 13 points and seven rebounds, but shot just 31 percent from the field. The shooting woes continued with Tiffany Jones (2-12 FG) and Shakena Richardson (1-9 FG). The inability to grab offensive rebounds and score off turnovers really hurt the Pirates.
The 70 points scored by Georgia was the most allowed by Seton Hall this season, topping the 64 that Princeton put up back on Nov. 19. However, the Pirates limited the Bulldogs to just 35.8 percent shooting from the field. They have kept all but one opponent under 40 percent this season.
After five straight away games and 20 days on the road, the Pirates are finally back at the Walsh Gymnasium for a matchup against the Fordham Rams on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.
Bobby Bevilacqua can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @rpb725