A deep postseason run was not meant to be for the Seton Hall women’s basketball program, as the 7th-seeded Pirates fell to the 2nd-seeded DePaul Blue Demons on Sunday night, 78-52, in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Ill.
The upset-minded Pirates fought hard against a well-rested DePaul team that received six votes in the most recent Associated Press Top 25. The Blue Demons claimed a share of their fifth consecutive Big East regular-season title this season, beating the Pirates in Walsh Gymnasium on Feb. 25 to clinch the honor with Marquette. They entered the tournament year – played in their home city of Chicago – riding a three-game winning streak.
Selena Philoxy led Seton Hall with a career-high 14 points, while adding nine rebounds. Despite her best efforts though, the underdog Pirates fell behind too early and too often, as DePaul managed runs to the extent of 9-0, 11-1 and 16-6 that consistently put the Hall out of arms reach.
DePaul threatened at several points to take over in the first half, opening up a 15-point lead with 4:22 to play in the second quarter. With their backs against the wall, Seton Hall answered with nine straight points from four different players to close the gap to 36-30 at halftime.
After halftime, however, the Pirates began to show signs of fatigue from playing their second game in two days. Seton Hall struggled to prevent DePaul from taking threes – a hallmark of Doug Bruno’s program – and the Blue Demons connected on 14 of their extraordinary 44 three-point attempts.
Five of those converted threes came from starting guard Ashton Millender, who led DePaul scorers in both regular season meetings with the Pirates, and finished the quarterfinal with 15 points.
DePaul got sizeable production from its two paint presences, as Mart’e Grays and Chante Stonewall each had double-doubles, with Grays registering a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Stonewall had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
As time ticked away towards the end of the game, the upset bid faded away as DePaul built an unassailable lead. In the final few minutes of the game, defensive intensity wore off as the imminence of DePaul’s win became clear.
With 3:37 to play in the game, head coach Tony Bozzella elected to take out most of his starters that were on the floor, including JaQuan Jackson, who likely appeared in her final game for Seton Hall. The Seton Hall guard, who transferred from Louisiana Tech in 2015, led the Pirates in scoring last season and averaged 11.6 points per game in her final year, finishing tonight with 2 points and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes of play.
It is uncertain whether the Pirates will receive an invitation to any postseason tournament, as their final record stands at 16-15 and 7-11 in conference.
Kyle Beck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @notkylebeck.