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Cooks’ Game-Winner Sends Seton Hall to WNIT Final

The Pirates traveled to the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee to take on Middle Tennessee State University in the WNIT Final Four. Neither team has made it this far prior to their matchup. Trailing by 4 with just 23 seconds left, Lauren Park-Lane and Sidney Cooks propelled Seton Hall to advance to the WNIT Championship, 74-73.

After giving up the first basket of the game, the Pirates surged for an 11-2 run for a 7-point advantage early. The Raiders rallied, though Seton Hall went into the break leading 16-14. MTSU and Seton Hall were both scoreless through the last two minutes of the first quarter.

Cooks opened the quarter with an easy jumper, but nobody expected what ensued. 15 second quarter points on the strength of three triples from Cooks led The Hall on a huge run. Park-Lane connects on a midrange jumper and capped off an unreal 20-0 burst. Middle Tennessee cut into the Pirates’ lead over the final three minutes of the half, but Seton Hall still held a comfortable 38-26 lead headed into the break.

Park-Lane accumulated 8 first half assists to go with 6 points and 3 rebounds, while Cooks’ hot hand produced 18 points and 6 rebounds. Mya Jackson added 8 points on a perfect 3-for-3 from the field. There was not a single free throw shot through the first 20 minutes of action.

With the lead back at 15, the Raiders cut the lead to single digits with a 7-0 run over the course of a minute during the third quarter. Jackson cushioned the lead with another triple, but Middle Tennessee became a different team in the second half. The Hall’s advantage wavered throughout the third frame, though held a 7-point lead into the final quarter. Park-Lane earned another double-double during the third quarter as she reached 11 points and 10 assists.

A 7-0 Raiders run tied the game at 57, but Seton Hall retaliated with a 10-3 run to bring the lead to seven once again. At the 4:35 mark, MTSU scored 11 straight points that took the soul from the Pirates. Trailing by four with just 23 seconds remaining, Park-Lane was fouled on a runner that gave her an and-one. Seton Hall would get the ball back and Cooks scored what would be the game-winner down low with 2.4 seconds left to seal a championship bid for The Hall.

Four Pirates poured in double-figures Thursday night. Sidney Cooks led all scorers with 28 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Park-Lane had 16 points, 10 assists, and 5 rebounds. Andra Espinoza-Hunter and Mya Jackson dropped 13 points each. Kseniya Malashka, who came off the bench for Middle Tennessee State, produced 25 points and 9 rebounds.

Seton Hall advances to the WNIT Championship to face South Dakota State in Brookings on Saturday, April 2nd at 3:00 pm.

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