Seton Hall’s women’s basketball team will look to settle a score when the Pirates travel to Chicago, Ill. for a rematch with DePaul on Friday, Jan. 29.
The two Big East goliaths last squared off on Jan. 5, when the Blue Demons took a trip to South Orange. The showdown was one of national significance, as DePaul was the No. 24 team in the Associated Press Top-25 Poll at the time while Seton Hall was No. 25. DePaul won the game, 86-74, but a gritty effort and packed Walsh Gymnasium helped the Pirates cut a 32-point deficit to as little as seven.
It was SHU’s first and only home loss of the year.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of revenge, but it’s a matter of, ‘Ya know what? Let’s prove ourselves against the better Big East teams. Let’s prove to ourselves that if we want to win the conference title, we need to win this game,’” head coach Tony Bozzella said of the game ahead. “Let’s get off our rear end and play a lot better basketball.”
This time around, the Blue Demons are No. 23 in the country by decree of the AP. The Pirates are no longer an AP Top-25 team, but cracked the USA Today Coaches Poll following three straight wins against Georgetown, Xavier and Butler. DePaul, also ranked No. 21 by USA Today, sits atop the conference standings at 16-6, 8-1, while Seton Hall sits in third with a 16-4, 6-3 record. St. John’s, who has lost to DePaul and beat Seton Hall this season, is sandwiched in between with a 16-4, 7-2 record.
Guard Jessica January wreaked havoc on the Hall when DePaul visited Walsh at the start of the month. The junior completed a triple-double, tallying 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Chanise Jenkins led the Blue Demons’ scoring attack with 21 points while three others reached double-digits.
“(We) have to play more of a together defense,” Aleesha Powell said. “We’re going to have to be in help. We’re going to have to contest as much as we can and contain them as much as we can.”
Bozzella agreed with his point guard, noting that DePaul realized the need to play team defense when the two teams last met.
“If you try and guard us individualistically we’re going to beat you bad like we’ve done recently to some other teams,” Bozzella said. “If you play with a team concept, it’s harder to score. We need to play a good team concept defense.”
Powell led the Pirates with 23 points on 8-of-20 shooting last time, while Tiffany Jones added a 14-point, 16-board double-double to the stat sheet. Tabatha Richardson-Smith added 17 points of her own, but ultimately it was not enough for Seton Hall to prevail in the wild affair.
The Blue and White kept close or bested DePaul in most statistical categories, but a disastrous first half saw SHU shoot 30.6 percent from the floor. The Pirates also got little relief off the bench, with subs scoring just seven points compared to the opposition’s 19.
“Our bench is much better now,” Bozzella said, mentioning the efforts of Taylor Byrne, Jordan Mosley, Martha Kuderer, Jordan Molyneaux and LaTecia Smith.
With a highly-anticipated sequel on its way, the Pirates are hoping for a different result in Chicago, but are also not getting too ahead of themselves.
“One game isn’t bigger than the next,” Powell said.
The game is set for a 1 p.m. start at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
Gary Phillips can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @GaryHPhillips.