South Orange, NJ - Two teams with win streaks, Seton Hall at six, Creighton with three. Senior Day as an added extra.
Let it be known-I am in favor of the elam ending. On this day however, with its 24 lead changes and 16 ties, going into two overtimes was just fine. Elam can wait. The edge of the seat drama and intensity were more than worth having to wait 50 minutes of playing time to decide a winner.
In the end Creighton survived by a 97-91 count in the game at Walsh Gymnasium on the Seton Hall campus. Creighton (20-7) is 15-4 in the Big East. Seton Hall (14-11) fell to 9-8.
After one period Seton Hall trailed 24-18. Creighton posed a myriad of problems for Seton Hall.The Blue Jays had size, allowing them to rebound and ignite a fast break. They also had shooters. Creighton spread the floor and was more than willing to shoot from three. At the end of the period they showed seven field goals- three from beyond the arc, six in the paint and one midrange.
Seton Hall countered with some size of their own. The first ten minutes Seton Hall established an inside presence with 6’4" Sidney Cooks effective inside.
Seton Hall came out strong in the second period. The Pirates aided by two Andra Espinoza-Hunter three pointers opened the period on a 12-0 run. Following a time out, Creighton regrouped and went on a run of its own. Fueled by two Emma Ronsiek three pointers, the Blue Jays took a 40-37 lead into the halftime break.
Seton Hall ‘won’ the first four minutes of the third period 11-6. That spurt pushed the pirates ahead 48-46. Sparked by Lauren Park-Lane and Espinoza-Hunter, the Pirate offense was clicking. The Pirates took a 61-60 lead into the final period. The main concern for Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella arguably was rebounding. The Hall was getting stops only to see Creighton extend several possessions with offensive rebounds.
Two minutes remained. Creighton, by virtue of a Lauren Jensen 10-foot baseline jumper, had a 78-76 lead. Two Park-Lane free throws evened the count. Creighton inbounded from half court with six seconds left following a full time out. Coach Jim Flanery set up an isolation play freeing the 6’1" Ronsiek for a layup. She missed the wide open attempt. Overtime.
Intensity and suspense reigned through Walsh. Six seconds remained in overtime. A Park-Lane drive and foul resulting in a conventional three put the Hall up 84-83. Time out Creighton. Loose ball off a miss and a tie up with 1.2 seconds left go is deemed a foul rather than a jump ball. Rachael Sauners hits one of two. Time out Hall 1.2 to go. The Pirates threw the ball out of bounds. Creighton inbounded and Rachel Saunders hits a running forty footer. Play review after about five minutes declares no basket.
Second overtime teams trade baskets for several minutes. In the final two minutes Creighton gets fouled on consecutive possessions and converts their free throws. Hall does not have an answer and goes down after a hard fought contest.
Espinoza-Hunter (6 of 8 from three) led all scorers with 35 points before fouling out in the second overtime. Park-Lane added 24. Creighton placed five in double figures with Ronsiek leading the way with 26 points. Morgan Maly came off the bench to contribute 17.
Seton Hall shot 46% from the floor, including 42% from long distance. Creighton attempted 40 of their 77 field goal tries from long range. The Blue Jays were 43% for the game and 33% from three.
Tempo free numbers:
Offensive efficiency- Creighton 114, Seton Hall 107
eFG%- Seton Hall 52, Creighton 51
TO rate- Creighton 14, Seton Hall 15
Low turnover rates plus good effective field goal (eFG) shooting equals high offensive efficiency.
Tony Bozzella appeared drained. It was that type of game. Bozzella called it "a great college basketball game. They (Creighton) made a few more shots we didn’t." Bozzella admitted losing guard Mya Jackson in the second half due to an injury hurt but," we have players able to step in and step up." Bozzella felt it was a physical game with officials letting the teams play. He did add, "a two or three calls at the end were questionable and we are home and shot only 11 free throws (Creighton attempted 23)." Tough loss aside, Bozzella wrapped it up emphasizing,"We have a good team. We know we are a good team and believe in ourselves. We will bounce back for the next game."
Creighton coach Jim Flanery could not remember a two overtime game like this in recent memory. He did cite being involved in a four overtime game a few years back. "The last play in regulation we had our best player (Ronsiek) wide open and she missed a layup." Flanery could look at the play now with a light hearted approach. He did note his team had no trouble coming out for either overtime session after narrowly missing the chance to end the contest. "At the end of the first overtime I was certain the shot (by Rembao) was off in time. The officials said they reviewed five camera angles before determining it was not." Flanery praised the play of Espinoza-Hunter and Park-Lane of Seton Hall. Espinoza-Hunter for her lights out shooting, often while defended closely. Park-Lane for her ability to get in the lane and break down defenses. He also conceded Seton Hall’s losing Jackson hurt the Pirates, especially in a game extended to 50 minutes. A game where exhaustion was setting in for both teams. On his own club he noted," we start several Sophomores but do have a graduate player running the point. We are ahead of schedule so to speak."