In a battle between the last two winless teams in the conference, the Seton Hall Pirates defeated the Villanova Saturday afternoon, 53-49, climbing out of the proverbial basement of the Big East.
“The win means a lot,” assistant coach Kim Tingley said. “It takes pressure off and gives the players confidence. It shows them that they’re moving forward and keeps them positive to win the next games.”
With their first conference win, the Pirates snapped a nine-game losing streak, moving their conference record to 1-8, 9-13 overall on the season.
The Wildcats fell to 0-7 in conference play, despite having a winning record overall at 11-9.
The game came down to the wire as a jumper in the paint by junior guard Ebonie Williams gave the Pirates a 48-47 lead with 44 seconds to go.
Sophomore Kandice Green sank three free throws in the final 30 seconds of the game, giving Seton Hall just enough cushion to leave
The Pavilion, Villanova’s home court, with their first conference victory.
“This is the first step to some more wins hopefully,” Kandice Green said. “It gives us a good energy boost and some confidence.”
Kandice Green recorded her ninth double-double by posting 20 points and 12 rebounds, five of which were on the offensive end.
Kandice Green is also is now nine made free throws away from the Seton Hall single season record of 123, set in the ’00-01 season by Arminda Moreno.
She has attempted 151 foul shots on the year and nearly half of her season’s points have come from the free throw line.
“I just try to go as strong as I can and draw the foul if it’s possible,” Green said.
Ebonie Williams, Seton Hall’s leading scorer, broke Jodi Brooks’ single season three point record set in ’93-94 by hitting two from behind the arc against Villanova, giving her 58 on the year.
“I didn’t actually know at first,” Williams said. “But it is an honor and it’s broken now so it can only get better.”
The Maryland native leads the Big East in three pointers made this season and is also just 12 three-point shots shy of Seton Hall’s all-time career three-point record.
Williams played in all 40 minutes against Villanova, tallying 11 points, three steals, and three assists.
Freshman forward Terry Green recorded a career-high 11 points, draining three of her six attempts from behind the arc, along with three assists and two blocks.
Seton Hall started the game off firing on all cylinders, taking a 12-5 lead in the first seven minutes of action.
Villanova eventually came back to tie the game at 20 apiece with five minutes left to go in the half.
Both Kandice Green and Terry Green scored to give the Pirates a four point lead going into halftime, 25-21.
Neither team led by more than seven points despite there being only two ties and four lead changes in the game.
The Pirates shot 45 percent from the floor while Villanova’s poor second half shooting dropped their total to 36.5 percent for the game.
“There have been games where we play very good defense and our offense isn’t quite as strong, and vice versa,” Coach Tingley said. “But I think it’s putting those two things together that will get us wins.”
The Pirates are a very young team with only three graduating seniors and there are still seven conference games left on the schedule, four of which are at home.
“As of late, we have definitely improved,” Williams said. “We have started to play better, especially defensively, and we have to continue to rebound and put the ball in the basket.”
Seton Hall will host No. 25 St. John’s at home this Sunday at 2 p.m., then head to Piscataway on Feb. 10 to play in-state rival Rutgers at 7:30 p.m.
Matthew Bryant can be reached at email@example.com.