Chicago, IL -- In the wonderful world of basketball, especially in the month of March, many have had days like the Seton Hall Pirates had today against the Creighton Bluejays. After sweeping the Bluejays in regular season play, the Pirates entered this afternoon's game for lack of a better word flat. It was the first half of the Big East Tournament Semi-Finals at McGrath-Phillips Arena in Chicago.
On top of it being near impossible to beat a team three times in a row, Seton Hall was lacking and Creighton on the contrary with revved up and ready to play. The Bluejays were scrappy, excited and ready for payback.
Feeding off of their confidence the whole of the first half seemed to be the Bluejays to lose and with the stakes so high, they showed no sign of loosening their grip on the lead.
"A lot of it's mental. A lot of us were really hyped up because we haven't had this opportunity before, so you don't think about how you're tired, and you're not thinking about your legs; you're just thinking about winning and playing your best and really living out the experience and having fun," sophomore guard, Jade Owens on the mentality of her team in today's game.
"I think last weekend when we were out at Seton Hall, we kind of felt the momentum going our way with this match-up, so I think that showed with our energy today," .
When your opponent enters a game with the mentality that Creighton entered today's game, confidence has a tendency to be the first area a team struggles. During the awkward scrums, loose ball situations and toss up plays, Creighton did a phenomenal job of using their momentum to capitalize, and Seton Hall could only manage to stay on their shaky feet.
"Even though we were 0-2 against them, I felt like our familiarity with them and the fact that we'd been so close twice maybe worked to our advantage," Coach Jim Flanery on his teams performance.
Going into the locker room MC McGory, an Edina, MN native -- which also happens to be my alma mater -- lead all scorers with 11 points. While Shakena Richardson led the way for Seton Hall at the other end of the court with seven points.
The second 20 minutes brought much of the same. Creighton taking advantage of any and all opportunities put in front of them and the Pirates flustered and unsteady. Pirates Coach Tony Bozella earned himself a frustration technical at the 7:23 mark in the 3rd quarter. A frustration that also emanated through his staff and the faces of his players.
From that point on the urgency was evident for Seton Hall. They hunted for stops and looked to shoot first and pass second. However, through it, all Coach Jim Flanery and his Bluejays weathered whatever storm came their way and closed the 3rd up 52-39. And ultimately the game 77-56, even when MC McGory fouled out with a little under 5 minutes left in the game.
Coach Flanery on tonight's leading scorer MC McGory, "but when we recruited her, I couldn't get her to talk on the phone, and I didn't like calling her because I'm like, I can't get five minutes out of that kid. So even when she committed and signed, I'm like, am I going to like coaching this kid, because she's so introverted.
"But that introvert has become our best leader, and when Marissa got hurt, her leadership just kept building, and she committed even more to it."
While one could argue this was a David vs. Goliath matchup, no one could question this was a dominant and statement making win. This is the 3rd time a number 7 seed will make their way to the Big East tournament finals. They will face St. John's University a 4 seed, the first seven-four matchup in Big East history at McGrath-Phillips Arena, tomorrow 7 pm central.
MC McGory on tomorrow's game, "I don't know, we're just having a lot of fun, and I guess probably got one more top seed to beat."