Pirates Feast on Rider in Thanksgiving Classic BlowoutDate: November 25, 2017
(Photo: SHU Athletics)
By: Bob Towey
Pirate women's basketball (4-1) dominated the Rider Broncs (0-5), 85-49, in the first game of the Seton Hall Thanksgiving Classic at historic Walsh Gym on Saturday.
The Hall jumped out to a commanding early lead over Rider in the first quarter. Donnaizha Fountain picked up 10 points and went 5-for-5 from the free throw line over the game's first 10 minutes. Taylor Brown also stood out in the first, and on one play, she forced a steal in the Pirates' end, turned around, and scored from the paint seconds later. A series of costly turnovers and traveling violations kept the Broncs from threatening the Pirates' lead, and Seton Hall entered the second quarter with a 23-13 advantage.
Seton Hall picked up where it left off in the second quarter and continued to control the pace of play. Rider appeared sluggish and overwhelmed by the Pirates' offensive onslaught. Fountain recorded eight more points in the second quarter, including a pair of three pointers in the final seconds before halftime. Seton Hall limited Rider to 6-for-24 from the field through the first two quarters, while the Hall left the floor with a 42-24 lead. For head coach Tony Bozzella, this strong start was the culmination of a hard week's practice and highlighted the team's defensive efforts following a tough loss to Princeton.
"We struggled shooting the ball from three [in prior games]," Bozzella said. "And I think today we shot it better because defensively we were able to get out, get some easy baskets, [and] we weren't shooting the ball when it was a tight game." The Pirates' defensive stinginess and shot selection against Rider allowed the team to build and maintain the lead over the Broncs until the final buzzer sounded.
In the third quarter, JaQuan Jackson further energized the Pirates, nailing three consecutive shots from behind the arc for a 57-30 lead. Seton Hall rattled the Broncs, building the momentum as shot after shot seemed to fall from all around the floor. Toward the end of the quarter, the Pirates' lead peaked at 42 points as Jackson, Brown, and Deja Winters made their mark on the score. The Pirates breezed into the final quarter with a 76-34 lead, where they held Rider at bay and secured the victory.
"In the first half I didn't knock down a shot, so I told myself not to give up and [to] keep shooting the ball," Jackson said. Jackson ended the game with 19 points, all of which came in the second half.
Seton Hall's immense lead proved too much for Rider to overcome, and the game ended with the Pirates on top, 85-49. In the final game of the Thanksgiving Classic, Seton Hall will take on either East Carolina University or Jacksonville State University, who faced off at Walsh Gym after the Pirates left the court. For his team to win the Classic, Bozzella said the Pirates must display the same tight defense that it demonstrated against Rider.
"We have to even be better [defensively] because if we don't, we're going to struggle to score because we're not going to get the easy baskets that we need to give us the confidence," Bozzella said. "We need to carry that [defensive intensity] over and even probably raise it a little bit more."
The Pirates will take on Jacksonville State in tomorrow's Championship Game of the SHU Thanksgiving Classic. Tip off is set for 2:30 p.m. Catch all the action on 89.5 FM WSOU.
Bob Towey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.