The Seton Hall women’s basketball team looks to climb out of the cellar of the Big East conference when it plays on the road Saturday against the Pittsburgh Panthers.
The Pirates have not defeated the Panthers since a 51-50 home victory during the 2006-2007 season when Pittsburgh ranked No. 23 in the nation.
Pittsburgh comes into the game with a 13-11 record overall and are 2-9 in the Big East, placing them No. 14 in the conference. Five of their losses have come from ranked opponents including No. 1 UConn, 98-56. The Panthers are 9-6 at home on the season while the Pirates hold a 3-8 mark on the road this season.
“They (Pittsburgh) just beat Louisville and had a tough loss at Notre Dame,” head coach Phyllis Mangina said. “They have changed in the past 10 days and are playing much better basketball. They are coming along.”
Pittsburgh comes in with a balanced line up that has eight players averaging six points or more per game with three players averaging over double figures. For Seton Hall to beat the Panthers, they may need to focus on stopping Pittsburgh’s do it all trio of junior guards.
Junior guard Jania Sims leads the team averaging 13.5 points per game while adding 3.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. Junior guard Taneisha Harrison is averaging 12.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while junior guard Shayla Scott is averaging 11.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
“If we’re going to beat Pittsburgh we need to stop their guards from penetrating and we cannot allow run outs,” Mangina said. “We need to keep the rebounds away from their bigs and force their bigs to score in the paint.”
The Pirates game plan is to limit the trio of guards and force Pittsburgh junior forward Chelsea Cole to beat them. Cole is averaging eight points and 10 rebounds per game this season.
After the road trip to Pittsburgh, Seton Hall will host the Louisville Cardinals at Walsh Gymnasium on Wednesday.
Louisville holds a 12-14 record overall and a 4-9 mark in conference playing, good enough for 13th place in the Big East tournament. Eight of the Cardinals losses this season have come to ranked opponents. Louisville is 3-9 on the road this season with six of the losses coming to ranked opponents Seton Hall is 5-7 at home this season.
Louisville has five players averaging over six points per game with two players averaging more than 15 points per game.
The Cardinals are lead by sophomore forward Monique Reid who is averaging 16.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game and sophomore guard Becky Burke who is averaging 15.2 points and three rebounds per game.
Louisville is shooting 42 percent from the field on the season and out rebounding their opponents by almost five boards a game. Louisville shows a team effort on the glass with seven players averaging three or more rebound per game, highlighted by three players averaging more than six rebounds per game.
“Louisville is a post oriented team so we need our guards to help rebound,” sophomore forward Kandice Green said. “We need to hold our positions in the post and make them make tough shots. We have to stay out of foul trouble.”
The Pirates may look to Green at 13.5 points per game, junior guard Ebonie Williams at 13.2 points per game, and senior forward Nicole Emery at 9.8 points per game to put up points against the Cardinals defense.
“We are working hard and have a positive attitude,” Mangina said. “At the end of the day we need to put the ball in the basket and not get frustrated. When we get frustrated we compound our problems.”
Colin Rajala can be reached at email@example.com.