Good afternoon! We're coming to you in Smell-o-vision from beautiful Walsh Gymnasium on the snowy campus of Seton Hall University, where the Pirates look for a second straight conference win against the Golden Eagles of Marquette.
It's been so snowy that looking at the parking lots and the plowed heaps of snow made me imagine tactical uses for the walls. You could have some seriously strategic snowball fights up in there.
Lots of shooting practice for Seton Hall today. I don't think they've been off the floor since we got here, or if they have, not for very long.
Alexis Brown is utterly adorable when she puts her mind towards being chivalrous. (And was apparently very happy to be here. Good Lord.)
At halftime, Marquette is up 39-32. Seton Hall has played well for stretches, but Marquette's been able to answer every run. Katherine Plouffe has been a star for Marquette; Alexis Brown is running the show for Seton Hall.
Several hours and a fair amount of ice cream later, it's still hard to believe that Seton Hall pulled that out, seventeen down in the second half after taking some body blows both literal and figurative. But Alexis Brown and Tabatha Richardson-Smith and Ka-Deidre Simmons and Bra'Shey Ali decided that they were not losing that game, and they roared back, and the crowd roared with them, and that was one of the most thrilling games I've been at all season.
Chelsie Butler is not among my favorite people today- she was the one who slammed Ka-Deidre to the ground, and I think she was the one who knocked Tab into the band. She's reasonably skilled on the inside, but I don't like her physicality and I'm kind of looking forward to her match-up with Amber Thompson on Wednesday. Ashley Santos is very fast and drives very aggressively. She's got to work on her footwork if she gets a crew that's a bit more determined to call travels, but for her height she's got excellent speed. Lauren Tibbs provided some decent minutes when Plouffe was in foul trouble.
Cristina Bigica seemed to be a little off her game, though part of that might have been because she suffered a wrist injury in the second half. She just didn't seem to be the factor I was expecting her to be. Katie Young picked up a lot of that slack, getting to the line with efficiency and strength- she was always driving and always getting to the basket, along with dropping a couple of threes. Brooklyn Pumroy looks have matured a lot in the last year, even more than one would expect, and she has phenomenal range- she was taking set shot threes from the half-court line and getting good iron on them (after Tab tied the game, her halfcourt heave drew back iron). It wouldn't surprise me one iota if she could hit that shot, not just get a good shot off. Apiew Ojalu was intriguing on defense- she has very long, skinny arms, and she blocked a lot of shots. The way she uses her arms and the way she rebounds reminds me a little of Plenette Pierson, though not quite as strong in the body. She tangles well, and that's not meant as an insult. Katherine Plouffe showed off all the moves, hitting from both outside and inside and pulling down big boards. I was saying uncharitable things about Canada every time she scored, but that's also because I love me some hockey and I have a bit of a cranky about the results of USA-Canada. She's a tough guard, and it didn't help Seton Hall that they mostly sent guards at her. I mean, obviously something helped Seton Hall, because they won, but in terms of stopping Plouffe.
Breanna Jones provided some good defensive stops. Teresa Kucera came up with threes but also committed stupid fouls when she was out of position on defense. Right now she's primarily a shooter, and I hope that she develops more as a defender to use her height. Sidney Cook really disappointed me today, the only disappointment of the day. She's got no confidence and no enthusiasm left, and it's sad. I know she can hit the pretty jumper and pull down the boards with the best of them, but today sh was utterly lackluster. Tara Inman played just long enough to establish that this was not the day that was meant for her and sat back down. Makes sense- kid looks like she should be carded for R-rated movies and offered the kids' fare on trains. Chizoba Ekedigwe got a couple of minutes on defense with the foul trouble that mounted up for Seton Hall's posts, and did a credible job on Plouffe.
Bra'Shey Ali was all over the boards. Even when she didn't pull it down, she was in position to down the board and ended up being muscled out. She's got some pretty impressive vertical. She had some huge blocks, including one late in the game that helped set up the big run; almost as importantly, her big blocks got the crowd into the game, and the team fed off the crowd to intensify the defensive pressure. Janee Johnson had bad luck around the rim, but she stepped into the passing lanes well and contributed on defense. (She also has a very loud DE-FENSE chant. Helps when you're trying to get the cadence going and the cheerleaders are a bit off their game.) Ka-Deidre Simmons took a really big hit and came down hard on her back. We were breathless and silent as she squirmed, but after a few minutes on the bench, she was back to normal and helped spearhead the run to force overtime. She took control fo the team and the game like the upperclassman she is. Alexis Brown led the charge in the first half, cutting to the lane and getting to the line. She was fierce going after any ball that looked like it could be jarred loose. And then Tabatha Richardson-Smith went off. The best part was that, for the most part, she wasn't doing it with ridiculously long threes that would make you doubt her judgment, but with closer threes, midrange jumpers, and layups along the baseline. She was on fire, and we loved every second of it.
I think she was the only person in the arena that thought the three was going in until it actually went in and there was pandemonium in the gym.
The officiating left a bit to be desired in the second half, given the physicality that both teams got away with. The slam on Ka-Deidre was the worst, but Cristina Bigica got the worst of a collision and came away with the foul called on her, so Marquette had some arguments to make as well. There were more procedural calls missed than I would have expected from this crew- Brooks, Lynch, and Orminski are a good crew. That being said, they made a couple of out of bounds calls that were excellent, and I know that's one of Brooks's bugaboos.
One of the dance team girls was in the shooting contest during one of the timeouts. She hit the lay-up and the free throw, but had no luck on the three-pointer. Par for the course, actually.
When they have a reason to get into the game, Seton Hall fans are loud and passionate. We fit in with them. I'd say we fit in with them more than we do with St. John's fans, but St. John's is my team and I don't want to give any indication that they're not.
What a finish. What guts by Seton Hall. I think Terri Mitchell thought too early that everything was over, that she could go deeper into her rotation, that she could rest and save Plouffe. Surprise!