Pirates finish non-conference play with convincing home win

The Seton Hall women’s basketball team bounced back from its narrow loss to No. 11 UCLA on Dec. 17 with an 80-61 win over Fairfield on Thursday morning in Walsh Gymnasium.

The win is the Pirates eighth of the season, as the Hall finishes the non-conference stretch of the season on a positive note with an 8-3 mark.

Merinda Gruszecki/Staff Photographer

“It was our last game so we wanted to go into the break with a win,” Inja Butina, who returned today from injury, said. “The big games are coming. We can’t be relaxed or anything – we got to be on our toes and play how we play.”

Despite the convincing win, Fairfield kept the game competitive most of the way, thanks in part to a second quarter where the Stags outscored the Pirates 28-17.

The Pirates nearly went into halftime trailing, but Deja Winters made sure that would not be the case as she nailed a three with seconds remaining to give the Hall a one-point halftime lead.

“I thought we were tested really well by Fairfield,” coach Tony Bozzella said. “I just thought in the second half our defensive pressure wore them down a bit.”

The reoccurring theme for the Pirates this season has been their defense and Thursday it was no different, as the Hall racked up 11 steals and five blocks which turned into 24 points-off-turnovers.

A key element to their effectiveness on defense was the fast pace they maintained, with their hustle resulting in 12 fast-break points compared to none from Fairfield.

The highlight offensively for the Pirates was a brilliant performance from JaQuan Jackson, who went for 28 points on 11-for-13 shooting, including 5-of-6 from deep.

“Just trying to bounce back from the UCLA game – I had three points,” Jackson said of her motivation to come out strong Thursday. “It was really big, it was a confidence booster.”

Donnaizha Fountain turned in a well-rounded performance in her own right, going for 10 points, eight rebounds, five assists and a block.

For only the third time this season, the Pirates shot 50 percent or better from behind the three-point line. This effort was fueled by five three-pointers from Jackson, three from Winters and two from Butina.

The Pirates will hit the road for their next contest to begin conference play. That game against DePaul is set for an 8 p.m. tip-off on Thursday, Dec. 28.

Kyle Kasharian can be reached at kyle.kasharian@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @ItsKyleKash.