The Pirates led by one point with 10 seconds left, as Alexis Lewis grabbed a rebound that would seemingly secure a crucial road win at St. John’s last Saturday.
St. John’s needed to foul three times before it was over the foul limit and sent Seton Hall to the line.
The Pirates inbounded the ball, foul. They inbounded again and are fouled once again. The third inbound was another foul on St. John’s.
On the fourth inbounds, Shadeen Samuels loses the ball on the floor but Barbara John- son appeared to have recovered the lose ball. Johnson was whistled for the foul on her steal attempt and the Johnnies ended the game with two free throws.
The Pirates were among the Next Four Out in ESPN’s women’s basketball bracketology. A road win would have aided their resume and seeded them firmly in fourth place at 10-6 in the Big East.
In a 10-point loss to No. 14 DePaul, Seton Hall trailed 64- 61 and was in position for a quality home win against the first place Blue Demons. Both squads traded shots as the Pirates drew within one at 72-71, but back-to-back threes from DePaul created the separation with under five minutes to go. The stat sheet does not reflect how back and forth the game truly was.
Mya Jackson’s layup in the fourth quarter of the Creighton home game made it 56-51 with just over seven minutes to go. A 19-10 run from the Blue Jays put the game out of reach as the Pirates could not string together enough defensive stops to come back.
Scoring has not been an is- sue for this team, as the Pirates have a good balance of starters putting up double figures with diversified options pitching in off the bench. Of the six loss in conference, the Preseason Big East Player of the Year Samuels has only led the Hall in scoring one time as the supporting cast has done a great job of stepping up.
What has hurt this team is defensive efficiency and executing down the stretch.
The Pirates rank sixth in scoring defense in the conference, giving up just a hair over 64 points a game in conference and seventh in defensive field goal percentage at 40%. Contrastingly, they have the third best offense in the conference at 71.4 points per game.
While the Pirates do a great job at poking the ball free and earning steals, the second-best rate in the conference, they struggle to rim protect at just 2.6 total blocks per game – near the bottom for that ranking.
To close out the regular season, the Pirates host Xavier, who they beat by 20 on the road, and Butler who they also beat on the road. Their offense has the potential to light up the scoreboard and keep them in games, but their defense must match that in the coming games to finish a game.
The end of the season stretches for the Pirates in crucial for their NCAA tournament hopes and their late game execution will dictate that.
Evando Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @evthmps.