Coming off two straight losses at home, the women’s basketball team traveled south to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands to compete in the 2022 Paradise Jam on Thanksgiving. They faced Virginia Commonwealth, who they defeated in last year’s WNIT.
VCU jumped out to a 6-2 advantage with 6:28 remaining in the first quarter after the Rams’ Elze Motekaityte poked the ball out and converted on the other end. Seton Hall stole the lead, though, after Hagans connected from downtown and Cooks drained a jump shot. VCU went on to tie the game with 8 seconds left, but Sha’Lynn Hagans knocked down another three for a 17-14 lead headed into the second quarter.
The next 10 minutes were dominated by the Rams. Leading 23-22, VCU rode an 8-0 run over the next 4 minutes to take a 30-23 lead with 2:21 left in the half. Cooks snapped the run with a triple of her own, but five unanswered points from VCU gave them a 35-26 advantage headed into the break.
Hagans led the way for the Pirates with 8 first-half points on the strength of two triples, while Cooks followed with 7 points of her own. The team shot 32.3% from the field in the half.
Mya Bembry and Cooks opened the third quarter with a layup each to cut the lead to just five, but the Rams responded with a 7-0 run to bring their lead to double digits. VCU kept the lead to at least eight points for the remainder of the third frame, taking a 47-39 lead into the final 10 minutes after Cooks drained a three with 34 seconds remaining.
Both sides kept fighting in St. Thomas, though four-straight points from Lauren Park-Lane with 2:43 left in the game cut the deficit, 60-56. Jala Jordan drilled a triple shortly after to bring the Pirates within one with 53 seconds remaining.
Two free throws from Park-Lane to cap her 13-point fourth quarter gave Seton Hall their first lead of the half. VCU found an open shot and stole the game late, as the Pirates walked away with a heartbreaking 62-61 loss on Thursday.
Park-Lane led The Hall with 16 points, 7 assists, and 2 steals. Hagans scored 14 points and pulled down a team-high 7 rebounds. Cooks followed with 14 points of her own with 5 rebounds.
Seton Hall falls to 2-3 on the season and lost their third straight game. They will face Wisconsin at 1:00 pm on Nov. 25 to continue the 2022 Paradise Jam.
Thomas Donnelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @_tommyd023.