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Seton Hall’s Miraculous Season Ends with WNIT Championship loss to South Dakota State

In a season full of immense highs and disastrous lows, Seton Hall willed their way to the WNIT Championship after a late-season surge. Earning a 16-2 record over their past 18 games, the Pirates were prepared to take on a well-coached, dominant South Dakota State team that lost just one game during their non-conference schedule. The late-game scare in the WNIT Final Four against Middle Tennessee almost ended the season, but it was the Jackrabbits that put the Pirates away in the Saturday afternoon matchup, 82-50.

Mya Bembry tied the game at four early in the first quarter with a short jumper in the paint. South Dakota State would build a 5-point advantage thanks to Myah Selland, their leading scorer. Amari Wright broke up their run by making 1-of-2 at the stripe, but an uninterrupted 16-0 run ensued over the next five minutes. A layup from Sidney Cooks with 46 seconds remaining brought the score to 25-7, and The Hall had quite the obstacle to get over after the first 10 minutes of action.

Cooks began the second frame just as she started the first with an easy layup down low. The Jackrabbits’ lead would extend back to 21 points at the 6:58 mark in the second quarter, and the game would unfortunately not get any closer. Seton Hall connected on their first triple of the game thanks to Andra Espinoza-Hunter with 3:57 remaining before the break. The Pirates went into the half trailing by 22 points, 40-18. Cooks led the way with 8 points and 6 rebounds. SDSU’s Theisen and Nelson scored 9 points each, while Selland led all scorers with 10 points. They had 12 offensive rebounds and 13 second-chance points through the first half.

Espinoza-Hunter scored the first seven points of the second half, but South Dakota State’s lead would grow to 35 points as the Jackrabbits went on an 11-0 run. The Pirates ended the third quarter with 4 quick points from Katie Armstrong and Mya Jackson, but the lead could not be overcome. The advantage would waver to under 30 points just once throughout the fourth quarter, and SDSU went on to win the WNIT Championship in authoritative fashion.

Sidney Cooks and Lauren Park-Lane were both named to the WNIT All-Tournament Team for their amazing roles during this run.

Despite the Jackrabbits being in command the entire way, Seton Hall managed to bounce back from a rough start to the season and made it all the way through the WNIT. Head coach Anthony Bozzella, along with Lauren Park-Lane, Andra Espinoza-Hunter, and the entire Pirates program trusted what they had and came out with a season that will be cemented in Seton Hall’s history. Sidney Cooks and Lauren Park-Lane were both named to the WNIT All-Tournament Team.

The Pirates were led by Lauren Park-Lane’s 18.6 points and 7.1 assists en route to her record-breaking assist numbers. Sidney Cooks added 15.9 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds to go with 1.5 blocks per contest. Andra Espinoza-Hunter averaged 15.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, and poked a team-high 1.8 steals.

Seton Hall finishes their season at 24-13 and the most games played in a single season in program history. They lived up to all of the expectations set out regardless of the outcome. With newcomers such as Allie Palmieri and Shailyn Pinkney, this offseason is ought to be filled with a new energy in Walsh Gymnasium and it will be a sight to see for the 2022-2023 campaign.

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