Seton Hall finished their turnaround season on a high note

Seton Hall's Tara Inman diving for a loose ball in a win against Xavier. - Photo by Ray Floriani.

Seton Hall beat Xavier to close out a 17-win season.

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ- Moments after a 62-50 loss to Seton Hall, Brian Neal was asked to assess the game.

The Xavier mentor paused for nearly a minute before saying, "We couldn't match their (Seton Hall's) energy. Right from the start they came out with a lot of energy."

Neal expected the Hall to show extended defensive pressure from the first possession. The lack of numbers and being minus two point guards was reason enough to expect a defense predicated on forcing the tempo as well as turnovers. Neal, though was hopeful, his group could come out matching the Hall intensity. It didn't.

The numbers of note:

Xavier

Seton Hall

Possessions

66

68

Offensive Efficiency

76

92

eFG

46

39

FT Rate

31

25

OREB PCT

22

44

TO Rate

31

21

As the numbers show, Seton Hall did not shoot the ball exceptionally well. They more than compensated with an outstanding offensive rebounding effort. The Pirates also used their pressure to not only force Xavier into a 31% turnovers rate but as a means to create offense. Seton Hall enjoyed a 20-9 advantage in points off turnovers. The overall defensive effort was expressed by a 76 offensive efficiency on Xavier's part.

If there was a positive for Xavier, chalk it up in the resiliency column. Xavier trailed 37-18 at the half. Four minutes into the second half the margin was 21 points. Despite a losing streak of games, and the large deficit, Xavier slowly got back in it. The margin was six points, two possessions, with just over three minutes left. The visitors would get no closer as the Hall regrouped and went on a short spurt of their own to close out the victory.

"We got stops and made shots, especially from three," Neal said. "That was ther difference. Plus I can't give these group of young ladies enough credit. They have not given up. Not just tonight but all season."

Xavier fell to 3-15 in the Big East. Seton hall captured win number 17 improving to 8-10 in conference. Ashley Wanninger led Xavier with 12 points while Alexis Brown had another outstanding Game. The Hall Sophomore posted a game high 23 points, 12 rebounds.

Seton Hall will face Providence in the opening round of the Big East Tournament. Providence has struggled but is not being overlooked. Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella is concerned with matchups, especially inside, that could cause problems. The winner faces St. John's in the quarterfinal and, not to get too far ahead, Bozzella speaks with excitement about facing "our geographical conference rival," a third time.

Post-season hopes

March matters again with the women's program in South Orange.

There is talk of a WNIT bid, whether 17 wins is enough or should an 18th provide more of a comfort zone regarding selection. That alone is significant. Bozzella is quick to direct the praise toward his assistants.

"We have two former head coaches (Stephanie Del Preore and Tiffany Jones-Smart) and two former point guards (Lauren DeFalco and Marissa Flagg)," Bozzella said. "That is invaluable. Every day our assistants are having an influence not only on our players but myself just as much. They have played such an important role in what we are doing with this program."

Among those in attendance on Senior Night were Anne Donovan, the former Seton Hall coach now in charge of the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA. Jodi Brooks, an All-American on the '94 Sweet Sixteen team at Seton Hall, was also in attendance. Brooks was impressed with how hard this Seton Hall team plays.

"I am honored she (Brooks) said that," Bozzella said. "It means a lot because she was an outstanding player who always played hard."

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