Winter Storm Jonas could not stop the Seton Hall women’s basketball team, and neither could Butler. On Sunday, the Pirates improved to 16-4 on the season and 6-3 in the Big East with a 98-77 win against the Bulldogs at home.
When it came to the game’s first quarter, play could not get much better for the Hall. The ball was swinging, with assists coming on each of the team’s first five field goals. The defense pushed back Butler to missing threes, and Aleesha Powell went on fire to drain four straight threes in the first.
The Pirates shot 6-of-10 from distance in the first quarter and recorded zero turnovers while forcing seven Butler giveaways. They held back the Bulldogs offensively and led 34-12 lead after a quarter.
The team effort continued in the second quarter, with Powell recording two more threes and the offense continuing to run smoothly.
Seton Hall was challenged with a 12-0 run from Butler during the second quarter to bring the score to 44-27, but Shakena Richardson ended the threat with a jumper. The Pirates brought a 50-29 lead into halftime.
“I thought we came out with some good energy and some good determination to start the game,” head coach Tony Bozzella said after the game.
One facet of Seton Hall’s play that took a hit in the second half was its defense, as the Pirates allowed the Bulldogs to score 27 points in the third quarter alone, just two points fewer than Butler’s first half total.
The Bulldogs were able to apply more pressure in forcing turnovers and taking advantage in the paint, drawing fouls and getting players like Tiffany Jones and Lubirdia Gordon on the bench.
Still, the Pirates brought a 79-56 lead into the fourth quarter, where the defense would continue to struggle.
“Our defense has got to get better at the end,” Bozzella said. “To give up 48 points in the second half, we must have given up in the last quarter, probably five or six threes.”
Still, the Pirates were able to finish with the win and a 22-point lead, even extending the lead to as much as 31 points.
LaTecia Smith, Jordan Molyneaux and Martha Kuderer impressed off the bench, with Smith running the offense, Molyneaux filling in inside, and Kuderer hitting from beyond the arc.
Tabatha Richardson-Smith had a quietly dominant game, recording 26 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, with no help from the three-point shot. Shakena Richardson, while having an off-day offensively with five points, led the team with nine assists.
After losing three straight games, the Pirates have won three in a row. Powell sees the momentum turning for good.
“Ever since Georgetown, we’ve been moving, we’ve been flowing, passing the ball and it’s been great,” Powell said after her impressive 23-point performance. “The chemistry is definitely stronger. I think we’re only going to build from here.”
Seton Hall next faces action against No. 24 DePaul. The Pirates will face the Blue Demons on the road on Friday, Jan. 29 at 1 p.m.
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Eswint22