The No. 25 Seton Hall women’s basketball team (13-2, 3-1) fell to No. 24 DePaul, 86-74, in a competitive home contest that pitted two top-25 teams against each other Tuesday night.
When it came to shooting, Tuesday night was not Seton Hall’s night, and it was seen straight from the early Pirate possessions. Shots that usually come so easily for the Hall’s starting lineup were not finding the bottom of the net.
The Pirates entered halftime in a 50-26 hole against the Blue Demons, scoring just 10 points in the second quarter while allowing DePaul to score 29.
The Pirates would start the second half no better, allowing DePaul to increase its lead.
“We lost this game, without a doubt, at the beginning of the second half, when it went from 24 to 32 [as a deficit] in 2:45,” head coach Tony Bozzella said.
At one point it seemed as if the Pirates were about to pull off an epic comeback, closing the deficit to just seven points thanks to some lockdown defense and clutch shots.
It was a stunning comeback from the Pirates that culminated from acrobatic threes from Aleesha Powell, being able to finish in the paint, and flustering the Blue Demons on offense inside and out, including a shot clock violation.
DePaul star Jessica January, who finished with an impressive triple-double on the night (13 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists), recognized the new pressure from Seton Hall caused a stir in DePaul’s plan.
“Their pressure [made a difference], they got us going a little bit too fast and we weren’t really taking our time offensively,” January said after the game.
Walsh Gymnasium was busting at the seams with each Seton Hall steal and stop on defense, and every point of on offense. It was a run that spanned from the third to fourth quarter, all the way to a 76-69 Seton Hall deficit with less than three minutes left. Ultimately, SHU had to play the foul game and it was not enough.
Even with the three-point fury led by Powell and Richardson-Smith down the stretch, DePaul started making its shots and the foul method could not get the Pirates within single digits of the lead again. In the end, the run came up short, even with the small lineup that helped spark change for the Pirates.
“They went small, too, and I tried to stay big for a long time,” DePaul head coach Doug Bruno said after the game. “I wanted to see it we could stay big. I wouldn’t call us stubborn on that matchup, but I wanted to challenge us to be able to handle that matchup.”
Still, Bozzella thought the start of the third quarter was the game-changer.
“When we got it all the way down to seven, that was a 25-point game,” Bozzella said. “If we had just stayed even to start the second half, now you’re up one and now the game is completely different.”
Leaders of the game for the Hall included Powell with 23 points, Tiffany Jones with 14 points and 16 rebounds (her fifth double-double of the season) and Shakena Richardson, who had an off shooting night (2-13), but finished with 5 points and 4 assists.
The Seton Hall women’s basketball team next sees action on Saturday, Jan. 9 at 2 p.m., when it travels to St. John’s in an away Big East matchup.
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.