The Seton Hall women’s basketball team dominated the Rider Broncs 85-49 in the opening game of the 2017 SHU Thanksgiving Classic this afternoon.
The Pirates were fresh off an eight-day break from their most recent contest, an 85-83 loss to Princeton back on Nov. 16, and that extra time for rest and preparation certainly paid off.
Seton Hall got off to a hot start in the first quarter, cruising to an 11-3 lead after just five minutes. That lead built up to double-digits with 2:55 left in the quarter, after a Selena Philoxy layup made it a 19-8 game.
The Pirates maintained their double-digit lead throughout the second quarter thanks to a strong defensive effort. Rider shot just 27.6 percent from the field in the first half, and only 12.5 percent from beyond the arc. Seton Hall also forced 11 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes en route to a 42-24 halftime lead.
Seton Hall continued to build the lead in the third quarter, eventually pushing to a lead of over 40 points. JaQuan Jackson drained three straight three-point shots early in the third, and Deja Winters followed up with three consecutive baskets of her own late in the quarter. By the end of the third, Seton Hall led Rider 76-34.
“In the first half I didn’t knock down shots,” Jackson said. “So I told myself not to give up; and my teammates got me open, and I kept shooting the ball.”
Rider managed to cut the lead down to 32 points in the fourth quarter, but Seton Hall got momentum back quickly in the final minutes of the game thanks to back-to-back makes from Tyeisha Smith.
Donnaizha Fountain led the way for Seton Hall with 20 points, shooting six-of-10 from the field and three-of-five from deep. Taylor Brown added 11 points, while Jayla Jones-Pack grabbed seven rebounds for the Pirates.
Despite limiting Rider to a 28.1 percent field goal percentage on the game, Seton Hall head coach Tony Bozzella believes there is still room for improvement on the defensive end.
“We have to be even better,” Bozzella said. If we don’t [get better], we’re going to struggle to score because we’re not going to get the easy baskets that we need to give us confidence. I thought they had some easy looks early on and we didn’t do a good job of defending them. They missed, but we need to make them miss.”
The win improves Seton Hall to 3-1 on the season, while the loss drops Rider to 0-5. Seton Hall will return to action on Sunday where they will Jacksonville State, who overcame East Carolina 82-73, in the finale of the SHU Thanksgiving Classic.
Matt Lapolla can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MatthewLapolla.