After a record-breaking win against Xavier on Wednesday night, Seton Hall were looking to add to their post-season resume with an away win over Villanova. Beating the Wildcats would have also seen the Pirates jump their opponents in the Big East regular season standings to fourth and cement one of the top four seeds for the Big East Tournament.
The opening quarter was a back-and-forth game between the Pirates and the Wildcats. Seton Hall was 5-for-17 from the field, while Villanova was 4-for-14. Sophomore Maddy Siegrist was the star of the quarter for Villanova as she led them to an early lead over Seton Hall, scoring six of their 18 points in the first quarter.
However, Siegrist fouled Andra Espinoza-Hunter with just one second left in the first quarter, sending the Pirates’ graduate-transfer to the line for three free throws. Espinoza- Hunter made all three to put Seton Hall within one point of Villanova at the end of the first quarter, but the Wildcats held an 18-17 lead on the Hall after the first 10 minutes.
The Pirates came out red hot to start the second quarter. A pair of layups by Espinoza-Hunter and Desiree Elmore and a three-point jumper on the next score by Espinoza-Hunter sparked a 7-0 run for the Pirates and forced the Wildcats to call a timeout at the 8:33 mark with Seton Hall up 24-18.
Despite being forced into six turnovers throughout the second quarter, the Wildcats were able to creep their way back up on the Hall and cut their deficit to one point after a layup by Siegrist. Like the Wildcats in the first quarter, though, the Pirates held on to their one-point lead to head into half time in front by a score of 29-28.
The Pirates mustered another scoring run midway through the third quarter, scoring nine unanswered points to push away from the Wildcats. With the clock running down in the third quarter, Espinoza-Hunter found herself in possession and scored a buzzer-beating three-point basket to give the Hall their biggest lead of the game at 12 points. Seton Hall took a 54-42 lead into the final break before the final quarter of the night.
Again, the Hall dominated the opening proceedings of the quarter. The Wildcats were kept quiet for over five minutes before Brianna Herlihy scored their first point of the fourth quarter from the free throw line. The Pirates saw their largest lead of the game at the 2:13 mark after a driving layup by Park-Lane in the paint gave them a 14-point lead over Villanova.
Although Villanova tried to close out their last game of the regular season with a win, they were unable make that happen. Seton Hall came out on top 67-55 off the back of another excellent offensive display from their Espinoza-Hunter, Park-Lane and Elmore attacking trident. Elmore also put on an excellent defensive performance on the night to keep the rest of the Wildcats in check despite Siegrist scoring 27 points.
Elmore led the Pirates in both points and rebounds with 21 and 16, respectively. Behind her was Park-Lane with 20 points and five assists and Espinoza-Hunter with 16 points and seven rebounds.
With Seton Hall and Villanova likely to finish the regular season in fourth and fifth place, respectively, this game provided a look into what a potential second-round meeting at the Big East Tournament could look like between both teams.
The Pirates will be back in action on Monday, Mar. 1 at 7:00pm as they prepare to take on St. Johns for their last game of the regular season. In the reverse fixture back in January, Seton Hall won at home by a score of 87-64 with Espinoza-Hunter hitting 30 points on the night.
Ashley Howard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.