South Orange, NJ - In the final analysis the second period proved to be the game changer as Syracuse defeated Seton Hall 72-54 in the second round of the WNIT. Monday’s game at Walsh Gymnasium saw the Orange improve to 26-12 while Seton Hall ended their season at 19-15. The points of emphasis:
A crucial ten minutes. Seton Hall trailed 9-7 after the first period. That opening stanza saw both teams have more turnovers than field goals. Syracuse turned it over seven times while canning four field goals. Seton Hall had five miscues against three field goals. That second period saw the Orange hold the Pirates to single digit scoring (8 points) while getting the offense in gear. Syracuse scored 26 points en route to a 35-15 halftime lead. "We got into a lull and lost our intensity during that second period," Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella lamented. "We didn’t have a lull even when Saint Joseph's made a comeback (in the first round game won by the Hall). Tonight that second period we got in a lull that cost us the game. Anytime you lose your intensity is just not acceptable."
The first half efficiency numbers illustrating the second period disparity:
Bounce back. Seton Hall made a run after halftime. Seton Hall’s standout guard Lauren Park-Lane started finishing in the lane. A 1-2-1-1 full court press helped on the defensive end. The Pirates ‘won’ the first four minutes by a 11-5 count. The rally continued as Seton Hall trimmed the deficit to a three possession game. "I was proud of the way we came out," Bozzella said. "Our kids could have hung their heads and given up. They fought back."
Syracuse called time out then regrouped. "I told the team to just fight through and handle the stress," Syracuse coach Felicia Legette-Jack said. "Just settle down and reset."
Fourth period spurt. Bozzella felt good entering the final ten minutes. The Hall was down 11 but the deficit, in his estimation, was manageable. Syracuse opened the period going on a 9-0 run to basically seal the verdict. "We wanted to get within ten," Bozzella said. "Then they (Syracuse) just went on a roll."
Rebounds and turnovers. As has been the case for a good part of the season, Seton Hall had trouble with those two areas. "We gave up 19 offensive rebounds," Bozzella said. "That is just unacceptable." The Orange enjoyed a 15-8 edge in second chance points. Kyra Wood, Deriauna Lewis and Asia Strong each had four offensive boards for the Orange. While Syracuse was guilty of 16 turnovers, the Hall had 19 of their own. "Turnovers, rebounding, two problems all year," Bozzella admitted. "But credit Syracuse."
Notes. In a 73 possession game, Syracuse posted a 99 offensive efficiency to 75 of Seton Hall. Dyaisha Fair of Syracuse , an All-ACC selection, led all scorers with 24 points. Georgia Wooley added 19 for the Orange. Wooley, a sophomore forward from Australia, played a fundamentally sound game adding five assists and four rebounds. "She may not out quick you or out muscle you," Legette-Jack said of Wooley. "But she will out think you, she has an exceptional basketball IQ." Lauren Park-Lane paced Seton Hall with 23. The Pirate standout was the lone Seton Hall player hitting for double figures. Syracuse shot 43% from the floor while Seton Hall checked in at 37%. Syracuse won the battle of the boards 46-39. Lewis led all with 10 boards while Azana Baines paced the Hall with eight (four offensive).
Syracuse will visit Columbia, a 78-73 winner over Fordham, Friday in the next round. Former standouts from the Syracuse men’s team, Rafael Addison and Wendell Alexis were among a good number of Syracuse fans in attendance.
Legette-Jack had a great run at Buffalo before heading down the NY Thruway to return to her alma mater this season. "Over the season the team has come together like sisters," she said. "We didn’t even know each other at first but everyone stayed with the process."