It did not take long for graduate transfer Victoria Cardaci to make her presence felt as a member of the Seton Hall women’s basketball team.
In her first game as a Pirate, Cardaci tied the program record for three-pointers made in a single game with seven as Seton Hall cruised to a 95-40 victory over Wagner in the team’s season opener. Cardaci led all scorers with 21 points on 7-11 shooting from beyond the arc, while Shadeen Samuels chipped in 18 points and Inja Butina added 12.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know I hit that milestone,” Cardaci said. “I’m grateful for that. I can’t be more thankful that my teammates were getting me the ball for open shots.”
“[Cardaci] was tremendous,” coach Tony Bozzella said. “Victoria’s defense was very good today. She’s not just a three-point shooter, I know she only took three-point shots, but she had four assists. It’s the assists and everything she’s working on with her game that really impressed me.”
Wagner got off to a quick 6-0 advantage over the Pirates behind two three-pointers but from there, it was all Seton Hall. The Pirates ripped off a 15-0 run sparked by two threes from Cardaci and a couple of buckets from Samuels to go up 15-9 with 4:07 remaining in the first quarter. Cardaci finished the quarter strong with two more makes from beyond the arc and Syracuse transfer Desiree Elmore scored her first points as a Pirate as Seton Hall led 27-17 at the end of one.
“I thought the girls brought a ton of energy,” Bozzella said. “We got down 6-0 and the girls focused and did the best they could do. I’m really proud of them for that.”
Seton Hall’s fast-paced offense picked up where it left off in the second quarter, as the Pirates opened with a 13-0 run to build a 40-17 lead. Cardaci remained hot from deep in the second frame, hitting five more threes to give her seven on the afternoon and Seton Hall a 52-27 lead at the half.
Seton Hall opened the third quarter as it did the second, as the Pirates went on a 9-0 run with Butina providing seven of the nine points herself. Seton Hall’s grew as large as 38 in the quarter and the Pirates took a 72-34 lead into the fourth quarter.
A 12-0 run at the beginning of the fourth ballooned Seton Hall’s lead to 50 and with the game out of reach, Bozzella explored the depths of his bench throughout the quarter. On the day, Seton Hall went 12 deep and all of the freshmen on the roster factored into the rotation.
“It’s nice to get Danielle Robinson in, she’s been working really hard,” Bozzella said. “Whitney [Howell] and Femi [Funeus] are really good, they’re freshmen too. I was really proud of them today.”
Prior to the season opener, Bozzella expressed a desire to up the amount of shots his team takes per game and generate as many offensive possessions as possible. That philosophy paid off against Wagner, as the Pirates out-shot the Seahawks 66-52 while shooting 50 percent from the field and 12-37 from three. Seton Hall was also active on the defensive end, forcing a whopping 37 Wagner turnovers.
“Wagner is rebuilding their program, they’re well-coached, their kids try hard,” Bozzella said. “They were missing three of their best players today. I thought they battled and gave us everything they had, but at the end our pace wore them down.”
With the season opener now in the books, Seton Hall’s focus shifts to Kennesaw State in the first game of the Seton Hall tip-off on Nov. 10 at 12 p.m. in Walsh Gymnasium.
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.