Seton Hall showed toughness in coming back, beating Marquette in overtime

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Should a team foul when up three points with nine seconds left? Marquette thought about but chose not to and ultimately lost in overtime at Seton Hall on Saturday.

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Down 17 with just under 15 minutes remaining, Seton Hall responded to the challenge. The Pirates rallied to tie the game on a Tabatha Richardson-Smith three pointer with a second left in regulation. They then went on an 8-0 added session run to pull out a 90-86 overtime victory over Marquette at Walsh Gym.

The numbers of note:

Marquette

Seton Hall

Possessions

88

90

Offensive Efficiency

98

100

eFG Pct

50

46

FT Rate

42

33

OREB PCT

29

22

TO Rate

24

11

A common thread in this game was ‘toughness'. Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella praised his team's toughness and ability to bounce back.

"Marquette came out and hit us (figuratively) speaking hard," he said. "Our kids responded but Marquette was the aggressor."

The toughness was evident in Ka-Deidre Simmons. Hitting the deck after a second half penetration that required attention from the trainer. Getting back up and making keys plays near the end of regulation and in overtime.

You can also point out to Bra'Shey Ali and Janee Johnson: no points but a lot of big plays and heart, not to mention 15 boards by Ali. The game-tying three pointer by Richardson-Smith was another example. Finally, Marquette scored the first four points in overtime seemingly reclaiming the momentum. Seton Hall came right back on a game closing 8-0 spurt of their own.

"Marquette is very good," Bozzella praised. "When we got down 17 we could have packed it in but refused. Those kids will not pack it in."

Richardson-Smith led the way from the floor with a school record 38 points. The Hall sophomore hit 15-for-27 (5-of-11 from three). In the preceding week of practice, she was challenged by assistant coach Lauren DeFalco.

"I was coaching the one team in a scrimmage and she (Richardson-Smith) was killing me," DeFalco said. "Hitting shots playing hard and during a break I said, 'Why don't you play like that in the game? We need that.'"

The 6-foot forward took the advice to heart.

Should a team foul down three with nine seconds left?

Marquette coach Terri Mitchell was afterward asked if she thought of fouling at the end of regulation. The Hall was down three inbounding under their basket with 9 seconds left.

"I thought about fouling," Mitchell admitted. "We had 9 seconds - if it was under 5 I would have fouled. We just didn't execute what we wanted against the ball screen (on the last shot) and we went over it in the huddle during time out."

In retrospect the Marquette mentor did not blame the last shot by Richardson-Smith as much as, "our inability to take care of the ball and missing some free throws were big factors."

Marquette was forced into a 24% TO rate and, of note, Seton Hall enjoyed a 26-7 advantage on points off turnovers. A crucial factor in the comeback and eventually the outcome.

Making a comeback

Marquette is 18-8, 9-6 in Big East. Seton Hall improves to 16-10, 7-8 in conference. Alexis Brown (24 points, 4 assists) and Simmons (17 points, 5 assists) had another outstanding day in the Seton Hall backcourt. Katherine Plouffe, Marquette's outstanding senior forward, led the visitors with 23 points, 11 boards.

Bozzella credited another assistant, Stephanie Del Preore, with another coaching motivator.

"If we are down say 10 with ten minutes to go, Coach Stephanie tells us to think of it as just a point a minute," Bozzella said. "It's more manageable - a point a minute - and the kids are taught there is time to get back and make up the deficit."

Bozzella is excited by the prospect of post season play for the first time in seven years. He did leave his team with a simple message: "Relax, enjoy this one, we will be off tomorrow (Sunday)."

For more on Marquette women's basketball, check out SB Nation's blog Anonymous Eagle.

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