The Seton Hall women’s basketball team gave their head coach a performance to smile about on Saturday, as they defeated St. Francis, 84-50, inside Walsh Gymnasium.
“I thought our defensive intensity from the media timeout in the first quarter to the end of the third quarter was the best it’s been in a long time,” head coach Tony Bozzella said.
The biggest reason for the Pirates’ defensive success was their ability to force turnovers, particularly steals. They were able to force 18 steals in total, with nine different Pirates collecting at least one. Pirates guard Inja Butina led the way with five steals, as she shut down her St. Francis counterparts in the backcourt, while center Jayla Jones-Pack added two steals and two blocks in limited minutes.
“I thought Jayla was our MVP today; she was tremendous,” Bozzella said. “Her stats are nothing compared to how well she played.”
As good as Seton Hall were defensively, offensively they were prolific. The Pirates shot 34-of-56 or 60.7 percent from the field, the fifth-best mark in program history.
Pirates forward Taylor Brown dominated on the offensive end. The redshirt sophomore shot eight-of-nine from the field and lead the Pirates with 17 points. Meanwhile, JaQuan Jackson was also integral to the Pirates offense, with 16 points of her own. Jackson was hot from distance all afternoon, as she shot four-of-six from three-point range.
“She’s [Jackson] not the only scorer we have and she’s really taken that to heart,” Bozzella said. “She’s making the extra pass and she has a lot of trust in her teammates.”
The Pirates made a conscious effort to share the ball and make the extra pass as the game progressed. Butina’s floor vision was the main factor, evidenced by her eight assists. In addition, Kaela Hilaire came off the bench and added four assists.
Another player that came off the bench and had a big impact was Deja Winters. The sophomore scored seven points and had three steals. According to Winters, team chemistry has been the reason for the Pirates’ stellar play of late.
“We’ve come to the understanding that sharing the ball and playing together is the only way to win games…the best way to win games,” Winters said.
With this win, the Pirates improve to 6-1, but now look forward as their schedule grows much tougher. Next weekend, they will travel to Piscataway to take on in-state rival Rutgers on Friday, Dec. 8, before traveling to Boston College on Sunday, Dec. 10.
Andrew Lombardo can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @lombardo_andrew.