SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -- The Seton Hall Pirates conquer the Saint Peter's Peacocks 81-65 Sunday afternoon in the Walsh Gymnasium.
Walsh Gymnasium was filled with high energy from fans and aggressive play from both sides as the whistle blew for the first half. Although it was a slow start for the Pirates, they regained some energy. Shakena Richardson and Aleesha Powell both were quick to bring the energy and start the Pirates with a solid 7-5 lead.
The Peacocks were able to keep pace with the Pirates struggled defensively giving up easy opportunities as Sajanna Bethea and Talah Hughes were able to capitalize on multiple opportunities and keep the score gap to a minimum.
Saint Peter's began the second quarter strong until Hala Mostafa fouled Tabitha Richardson-Smith bringing her to the line and getting the Pirate lead 21-19. During the second quarter with the help of Powell's quick turnovers and Richardson's aggressive counter attacks, the Pirates held the lead.
The Peacock's showed their colors as Bethea's aggressive play kept the gap close, finding room in the paint and opportunities outside the arc.
"We lead the Big East in field goal percentages allowed, and we played like we never played defense before in our first half and that was very frustrating. We have to stop losing ourselves and play defense the way we are capable of playing," said Coach Bozzella.
Tiffany Smith entered the game and brought fresh legs for a Pirate pick-me-up as she found her way through Peacock territory and provided open lanes and more energy. Richardson showed she was a force to be reckoned with as her and Powell matched up with multiple steals and having a significant presence on offense as well as defense.
"We talked about playing our way, the Seton Hall way, not anything else," said Powell after an aggravating first half.
At halftime, the score was 44-36 with Seton Hall leading.
Both teams had a strong start to the third quarter, but it was the intense defensive pressure from the Pirates that proved problems for the Peacock's offense. Richardson-Smith caused problems for Saint Peter's as she made two consecutive three-pointers early bringing the score to 54-38.
Even with the Pirates defense smothering the Peacock's offense, it was Marcia Senatus with an offensive presence and quality ball control who found opportunities to bring the gap closer.
Saint Peter's figured out a way to shut down Richardson with high pressure, in turn, LaTecia Smith found her opportunity to continue the Pirates lead at the end of the third quarter with the score 63-49.
As the fourth quarter unfolded, more Pirates began to step up offensively like Jordan Smith, with a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter. After Powell returned in the fourth quarter, she literally put her body on the line in an attempt to recover a loose ball turning the possession to the Pirates, who then found room for a layup giving them the larger lead.
Bethea and Neechelle Ingram continued to cause trouble in the Pirates paint, in a desperate attempt to close the gap, but the Pirates persevered offensively as Lubirdia Gordon was problematic for the Peacock's offense and defense. It was Seton Hall's LaTecia Smith's quick counter attacks that continued to increase the score as the Pirates lead 77-56.
New faces entered the late in the fourth quarter including freshman Martha Kuderer getting a point for the Pirates and sophomore Claire Lundberg with a jump shot bringing the final score 81-65.
"As we continue to play and get more comfortable with each other, our team chemistry is getting better, and we're going to get better from her," said Powell.
Seton Hall will travel to Rhode Island after their nine-day break on Tuesday, December 29th, against Providence College at 1:00 p.m. for a Big East game.