The Seton Hall women’s basketball team could not have picked a more opportune time to begin playing their best basketball of the season.
The squad ventured to Chicago for the Big East conference’s annual culminating tournament and gave No. 5 seeded Butler a bonafide thrashing before falling to reigning champ DePaul in a one-possession 83-80 slugfest.
Winning is not the only stat that should matter, though. So, where does the bright spot exist for a team that made an early round exit?
Eye-test connoisseurs may write off the final few games of the team’s campaign as mere disappointment, but a deeper look inside the numbers reveals an upward trend that far surpasses anything they’ve seen on the year thus far. It was when the games mattered most that Seton Hall players reached their pinnacles of performance.
The team’s first bout with Butler was an absolute barrage shooting-wise. The team, who has shot at a modest 42% clip throughout the year, erupted for a 50% masterpiece against the Bulldogs, posting the same mark from three-point land as well. As a contrast, the Pirates shot just from deep 32% during the regular season.
Their 16 made three-pointers were the most in program history, and both Alexis Lewis and Shadeen Samuels matched season-highs in makes from beyond the arc, with Samuels setting season-leading marks in rebounds (14) and free-throws made (7).
Freshman Lauren Park-Lane also set a career-high for herself points-wise and did so in the first half, propelling the Pirates to an enormous lead with 15 through the game’s first two quarters.
As far as the team, its 18-2 start in the first quarter was their best of the season, and it never came close to relinquishing that massive lead throughout the game’s duration. To put the beatdown into perspective – six players finished the game with double-digit plus-minuses, with Samuels posting a 28 total and Park-Lane a whopping 32 – amongst the highest totals of her short career.
Against DePaul, though, there was more stellar shooting, but less team dominance. Still though, the team tapped into an array of unseen potential, and did so exactly when they needed to.
Desiree Elmore notched a new career-high with 26 points and was a defiant stalwart on the defensive side of the ball in the matchup with the Blue Demons as well, picking up three blocks and two key steals. It was her 24th game in double-figures for the Pirates, and sixth double-double, both of which lead the team.
Shooting once again came at a furious rate for the Pirates, just a notch under the 50% mark vs. Butler, at 49%. That number was again higher than their opponent for the second straight game, with DePaul putting up a 42% rate.
In fact, not only did the Pirates outshoot their opponent, they outrebounded (43-36) the Blue Demons as well, this marking the first time that they dropped a game when outmuscling their opposition in both categories. They also had a better scoring percentage per possession, put the ball in the rim more times, and doubled the Blue Demons in points in the paint (52-26) as well.
The big discrepancy – three-point shooting, and DePaul’s seven in comparison to Seton Hall’s three was more than enough to give them the advantage they needed for victory.
It was a statistical showcase for the Pirates in both games, and though the final tally was not what they wanted, they have much to hang their hats on in terms of their performance. There’s still plenty of basketball left to be played for this team, and they’ll find out whether it will be in the WNCAA tournament or the WNIT on March 16.
If they can play like they did in the Big East tournament though, teams will have their hands more than full in stopping this Pirate brigade.Justin Morris can be reached at email@example.com. Find him on Twitter @Justin_JM12.