While the Seton Hall women’s basketball team isn’t perfect, coach Tony Bozzella’s squad is getting solid production off the bench.
The Pirates had 20 bench points in their victory over the Butler Bulldogs on Sunday, Jan. 29.
It was the 13th time this seasn that Seton Hall has gotten at least 20 points from the bench.
For most of the season, one player has stepped up as the team’s go-to reserve: Deja Winters.
The two-time Big East Freshman of the Week is averaging about six point, three rebounds and 21 minutes per game.
Winters shines on defense, where the 5-foot, 11-inch freshman can defend guards and small forwards.
Winters played especially tough defense since the beginning of conference play, most notably in the game against St. John’s on Friday, Dec. 30. She had three steals, one of which set up a game-tying shot from LaTecia Smith with 1:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, and a block on a potential game-tying three-pointer.
Winters recently flashed her offensive prowess averaging 9.5 points per game, shooting 59 percent from the field and 66 percent from beyond the arc over a four-game homestand. She also put up a career-high 18 points in a win over Providence on Friday, Jan. 20.
In the most recent SHU victory, it was not Winters shining off the bench, though. It was Martha Kuderer.
Kuderer has had a rough season, appearing in just 12 games and averaging 6.8 minutes, but against Butler she put on a show in front of the crowd at Walsh. After JaQuan Jackson and Kaela Hilaire got into foul trouble in the third quarter, Bozzella called on Kuderer to fill in.
She put up 10 points on 4-4 shooting and hit 2-2 from beyond the arc in just 10 minutes. Her offensive efforts helped hold off the Bulldogs from taking the lead while the Pirates were forced to bench two of their starters.
Bozzella spoke highly of Kuderer’s efforts.
“I was really happy for Martha, because Martha’s really struggled this year,” Bozzella said. “But she’s continued to work hard and gave us a huge lift off the bench.”
Averaging 21 points per game, Bozzella’s reserve rotation is consistently able to find production when the starters need some extra help, even if minutes are not always consistent.
“I think the kids believe in each other and believe in the system, and aren’t really upset if they’re not starting or playing,” Bozzella said.
In addition to Winters and Kuderer, several other players provide depth. Jayla Jones-Pack is sixth in the Big East with 1.5 blocks per game with 11.6 minutes per game.
Guard Kaity Healy, voted team captain as a redshirt freshman, is averaging 14.5 minutes per game. Bozzella spoke of her work ethic after the game against Butler.
“She tries hard on every single play, and everyone is starting to follow her lead,” Bozzella said. “I’ve had some great, great players that I’ve coached, but Kaity is my hardest worker.”
Having young players that contribute from the bench is important for Seton Hall down the road.
If players like Winters, Healy, Kuderer and Jones-Pack continue to improve, the Hall may have one of the deepest teams in the conference in the near future.
Matt Lapolla can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MatthewLapolla.