Heart over height. A credo for basketball players who are not blessed with the excess height that is perceived as necessary to succeed at the sport. Seton Hall women’s basketball freshman Lauren Park-Lane is one of these players whose ability shines through despite her diminutive stature. Park-Lane had 17 points and seven assists on Saturday afternoon to lead the Pirates to a thoroughly dominant 83-57 win over Butler in the quarterfinal round of Big East Tournament play in the Chicago. The Pirates hit 16 three pointers in the win, one triple short of the Big East Tournament record.
Park Lane, listed at 5-foot-6 in the Seton Hall media guide, already has a chip on her shoulder due to her height. This chip became a boulder in the days leading up to today’s contest as she was left off the Big East all-freshman team and it was clear from the opening tip that she was on a mission to prove how egregious that snub was.
In the games opening minutes, Park-Lane asserted herself immediately by scoring seven of the Pirates first nine points on a three, a free throw, and a coast to coast layup off a steal. An ensuing three by Shadeen Samuels gave the Pirates a 12-0 lead and forced Butler to call an early timeout.
After the sweltering start, the Pirates continued to play with urgency and energy, somewhat vindicating preseason expectations after an up and down regular season at times. Alexis Lewis hit three threes in the first quarter and Park-Lane led the Pirates with 10 first quarter points. The Pirates led 24-15 after one. Butler hung around for parts of the second quarter, but a key 12-0 run heading into halftime put the Pirates up 48-25 at the break and in complete control. The spurt was spurred by two more threes from Lewis and a three from Park-Lane. Lewis finished with 20 points to lead the Pirates in scoring on the day.
The second half saw no recession in the Pirates’ lead as the team’s foot remained firmly on the gas pedal throughout. Samuels joined the three-point party, draining two of her three triples and finishing with twelve points in the second half. Samuels finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds on the day. Mya Jackson, another freshman like Park-Lane, finished with 13 including three three-pointers.
The Pirates hope to continue their three-point success in Saturday’s semifinal clash with number one seed DePaul.
Matthew Collins can be reached at Matthew.firstname.lastname@example.org