After needing overtime to get past Central Connecticut State Saturday afternoon, the Seton Hall women’s basketball team could not handle UT-Arlington on Sunday, falling 86-61. The game was part of the SHU Thanksgiving Classic, with the two victors from Saturday squaring off for the title in front of a rocking crowd inside Walsh Gymnasium.
JaQuan Jackson made her long-awaited return for the Hall after a three-game suspension for an undisclosed NCAA violation, along with Jordan Molyneaux who sat out yesterday’s game. On the flip side, LaTecia Smith and Lubirdia Gordon did not dress for the game.
Gordon’s absence meant the Pirates would be playing without any seniors, and that the Pirates would have one less center to match up with UT-Arlington’s Rebekah VanDijk. The Arlington player took advantage of her size, very rarely posting up, but quite simply grabbing rebounds and scoring put-backs to the tune of 34 points and 11 rebounds. VanDijk claimed the tournament’s MVP award after the game.
The Pirates did hold the lead for most of the first quarter and, with the crowd behind them, appeared to be in control. UT-Arlington would claim the lead however right before the first quarter break, and would not give it back for the rest of the game. VanDijk was a big part of the Mavericks’ ascension, scoring 15 points in the first 13 minutes of the game to give UT-Arlington an eight-point lead in the blink of an eye.
UT-Arlington would extend that lead to 15 by halftime, converting 47 percent of their field goal attempts to Seton Hall’s 33 percent, in addition to out-shooting the Hall 66 percent to 33 percent from the line in the first half.
The Pirates would come out of the second half with a new sense of focus, going on a 7-2 run to cut the lead to ten at 42-32. The Mavericks had the response though, waiting patiently for the open look before finding Cierra Johnson for a wide open three. The Pirates would then unravel with Jackson turning it over on the corresponding in-bound, being called for an offensive foul on the subsequent play and then emotions boiling over with the Pirates bench being penalized for their reaction.
Head coach Tony Bozzella said that he knew this season would be a work in progress in many ways, but that he did not believe one of the struggles would be garnering effort from his players.
“I think it’s disappointing. Not because of the loss, but because of the way we played. The selfishness, the undisciplined; just being out-worked, I mean that’s not Seton Hall basketball. Today was a poor effort,” Bozzella said.
The loss was Seton Hall’s first non-conference home loss in three seasons under Bozzella.
“You know I’m very transparent. We’re practicing tomorrow. We are. Figure it out,” Bozzella said.
Seton Hall will have three days to figure it out before taking on a Garden State foe in Princeton on the road this Wednesday. The team will then have a chance to make amends at home Dec. 4 against Wake Forest.
James Justice can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @JamesJusticeIII.