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Pirates drop first of three-game home stretch vs UCF, 68-56

Seton Hall women’s basketball started a three-game home stretch as they hosted a strong University of Central Florida team in a 68-56 loss on Tuesday night in Walsh Gymnasium.

A quick Knights layup was unfortunately followed by an Andra Espinoza-Hunter injury early in the first quarter that brought Amari Wright into the game at the 9:32 mark. Wright put up a layup after coming in off of a great look from Sidney Cooks to tie the game at two. After the Knights jumped out to a 6-2 lead, Cooks would go on a personal 11-to-3 run that was capped off by a three-pointer and gave the Pirates a 13-9 lead with 2:47 remaining in the first quarter. Espinoza-Hunter returned to the floor late in the first quarter and connected on a last-second three pointer to give Seton Hall an 18-17 lead headed into the second quarter.

The University of Central Florida took charge in the second quarter with an 8-0 run within the first five minutes. Espinoza-Hunter knocked down another deep ball to snap the run and Curtessia Dean hit a midrange shot to bring the Pirates within four, 27-23. Lauren Park-Lane hit her first shot of the game with a triple thanks to an assist from Espinoza-Hunter. The Hall headed into the half trailing 35-26. Diamond Battles lead the way for the Knights with 14 points. Cooks led the way for Seton Hall with 11 points and three rebounds followed by six points from Espinoza-Hunter. The Hall committed 13 turnovers in the first hall.

Another big 8-0 run from the Knights put the pressure on the Pirates to begin the half as they now held a commanding 17-point lead. Espinoza-Hunter snapped the run with a quick layup and a three-pointer, and Kailah Harris added two free throws to cut the lead to just ten with four minutes left in the third quarter. Park-Lane’s second deep ball of the game brought Seton Hall within single digits. Down 47-41 with just six seconds left, Amari Wright hit a circus-shot triple heading into the final quarter and brought the Pirates within 3.

That was as close as the game would get, though, as the University of Central Florida would extend their lead back to twelve. Despite a few glimpses of a comeback, Seton Hall went on to drop this matchup 68-56. UCF’s Diamond Battles led all scorers with 22 points and added six assists on the night. Espinoza-Hunter put up 15 points and 4 assists, while Cooks’ hot start contributed 13 points and seven rebounds. Wright and Park-Lane added six and five assists, respectively, in a valiant team effort on Tuesday. 

Both teams shot well, with the Knights shooting 50% and the Pirates shooting 44.7% on the night. The Pirates were outrebounded 29-to-23 and did not lead again in this game after leading 18-17 early in the second quarter. Seton Hall falls to 4-5 and will return to Walsh Gymnasium on Sunday, December 19th to host Big East rival Marquette at 12:00 pm.


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