[caption id="attachment_17195" align="aligncenter" width="838"] “Claire Lundberg, SHU’s go-to three-point threat, is hitting 27 percent from deep on the road.” Joey Khan/Photography and Digital Editor[/caption] The Seton Hall women’s basketball team is far from perfect. The Pirates, halfway through Big East play, boast a disappointing 9-11 record, 2-7 in the conference. They have lost seven of their last eight games, only two of which were decided by single-digits. The dream of making their third consecutive NCAA tournament seems all but over with nine games left, but despite their losing record, the Pirates have a strong 8-4 record at Walsh Gymnasium this year. Since the start of conference play, Seton Hall has only dropped home games to the three best teams in the Big East in DePaul, Creighton and Marquette. While the loss to the No. 23 Blue Demons was tough, SHU only lost by six to Marquette and managed to take Creighton to overtime. Seton Hall also defeated fourth place St. John’s to open up the conference season and held a resilient Providence team to just 43 points. Tony Bozzella has guided Seton Hall to a 51-13 at home during his four-year tenure, and the 2016-17 squad is continuing that success. However, Seton Hall plays noticeably worse when away. On the road, the Hall has a pitiful 1-7 record. The Pirates’ lone win on the road came in the second game of the season, when they defeated Marist 76-63. Since then they have dropped seven straight road games, four of those to Big East opponents. Despite playing exceptionally against the Red Storm, the Pirates looked lost in a 21-point defeat to Butler where SHU shot 29 percent. After looking better in a six-point loss to Marquette, the Hall stumbled on with consecutive away losses to Villanova and Georgetown, dropping each by double digits. One of the reasons for these road struggles is inexperience, since many of the freshmen and sophomores have poor performances when away from Walsh. Kaela Hilaire is one of the team’s breakout freshmen, ranking third in assists and fourth in steals per game in the Big East, but her road success has been sporadic. A solid performance against Villanova of 15 points and four assists was offset by a subpar game against Butler, where she shot 3-14 and committed five turnovers. Sophomore captain LaTecia Smith has also struggled on the road, turning the ball over at least four times in five of the team’s eight road games, including nine turnovers against Rutgers. Some of the veteran players on the squad also have trouble playing away from home. Redshirt junior JaQuan Jackson is the team’s leading scorer, but like Hilaire she cannot remain consistent in her road performances. She was the sole bright spot of the team’s loss to Butler, putting up a season-high 25 points, yet 2-12 and 3-15 outings against Villanova and Xavier highlight her struggles away from home. Claire Lundberg, SHU’s go-to three-point threat, is hitting 27 percent from deep on the road. The main culprit continues to make itself known, and that is poor road play that stems from various forms of inexperience. Hilaire is among seven SHU freshmen playing in the Big East for the first time; Jackson, a transfer from Louisiana Tech, is making her conference debut this season. On the other hand, returning players like Smith and Lundberg barely saw time last season, and this year they were elevated to starters. It’s understandable that a team with an overall lack of experience would find difficulty winning on the road. If the Pirates want to be successful outside of Walsh, their top individual performers need to find consistency down the stretch. Matt Lapolla can be recahed at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MatthewLapolla.
Bozzella's Pirates at home at Walsh