Second-half Rutgers run turns one-possession game into blowout loss
The Seton Hall women’s basketball team fell in, ultimately, resounding 70-45 fashion to Rutgers on Friday afternoon in Piscataway, N.J.
The final score is deceiving in regards to how the game played out for much of the way, with the two teams separated by one possession for most of the first three quarters.
It was not Seton Hall’s best game of the season, as JaQuan Jackson failed to score in the first half, shooting 0-for-3 from beyond the arc and 0-for-4 overall in the first 20 minutes. Donnaizha Fountain picked up the burden of scoring somewhat, but got a costly third foul right before the half, leaving the Pirates with one of their top scorers struggling and the other troubled by fouls.
The Pirates continued to struggle shooting from deep as the game went on, only making four three-pointers on 19 attempts. This inefficiency from deep forced the Hall to search for offense near the basket – a tough prospect against a team with over seven six-footers who saw time. Rutgers blocked nine shots in total.
“Until you see them up close, you don’t really see how big they are,” coach Tony Bozzella said. “Even their guards are small, [but] are tough. I thought it was difficult. I think that is why you have to make some perimeter shots because you just can’t rely on, you know, just layups and driving to the basket; being more athletic. We’re not bigger and we’re not more athletic, so we got to make some jump shots.”
Still, the Pirates had their runs in the game. An 8-2 run in the first half of the third quarter helped the Pirates turn a 10-point deficit into a one-possession contest. However, the five-minute stretch was not all positive, as Seton Hall lost their point guard Inja Butina to injury after she fell face-first into the knee of one of Rutgers’ players.
The injury left Butina on the court with medical staff crowded around her for a few minutes, but the junior guard was eventually able to walk off on her own power.
“She is okay,” Bozzella said. “I mean, she would have gone back in if she could, but, I think she broke her nose or something like that. And, you know, it was just unfortunate that she was so excited to play this game, this is what she lives for; she is our organizer out there. I thought KK [Hilaire] came in and did a good job, but, now we’re asking KK to do a lot of other things that are difficult.”
The Pirates had cut the lead to two with a free-throw by Hilaire, with all signs pointing to a close fourth quarter that would add another memorable game to the Seton Hall-Rutgers series.
However, the Pirates failed to capitalize on two turnovers on the corresponding possessions, while one of those nine blocks from the Scarlet Knights sent Rutgers guard Ciani Cryor into transition – the first of 16 unanswered points for the scarlet and white.
“As ugly as this game is at 70-45, 34-32 we had a chance to take the lead and missed a three, had a chance to tie the game and missed a lay-up; took a shot that we shouldn’t have taken,” Bozzella said. “And they score two points on a turnover, two points on a turnover, three points on a turnover. And that is unacceptable.”
Rutgers had scored 34 points in the first 27 minutes when the game was still within reach for Seton Hall. In the final 13 minutes, Rutgers erupted for 36 points to close the game out in commanding fashion.
The result drops Seton Hall to 6-2 on the season, while the Garden State rivals to the south improve to 9-2. Next up for Seton Hall is another northeast road contest on Sunday, Dec. 10, this time in Boston, as the Pirates will look to respond against Boston College. Tip-off for that game is scheduled for 1 p.m.
James Justice can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @JamesJusticeIII.