Seton Hall Gives Up Late Lead in Loss to VillanovaDate: January 13, 2018
(Photo: SHU Athletics)
By: Alex Melillo
Despite having trailed for nearly 29 minutes and just eight points from their leading scorer, Villanova completed the comeback and escaped Walsh Gym with a 68-59 win over the Seton Hall Pirates.
The Pirates came out with a purpose in the first quarter as they took the lead early and didn't relinquish it. The Pirate offense made a concerted effort to get to the rim and finish strong and they did it in a big way. Shadeen Samuels and Donnaizha Fountain lead the way at the end of the first with seven points each. As a whole, the Pirates attempted 10 free throws in the opening frame, knocking down seven of them. Seton Hall took a 16-7 lead into the second quarter, with the crowd and momentum on their side.
The second quarter got off to a slower pace offensively with a couple of turnovers allowing the Wildcats to claw their way back into the game. However, another strong defensive frame from the Pirates helped jumpstart their offense. At the end of the first half, The Hall still held the lead over the Wildcats 26-17. The Pirate defense, led by Inja Butina, held star Wildcat guard Adrianna Hahn in check. The leading scorer for Villanova had just two points at intermission and was 0-for-6 from the field.
Samuels' strong play continued in from the first into the second half. The sophomore forward poured in nine in the first half and scored back-to-back buckets in the third to swing momentum firmly in the Pirates favor. Villanova made their run again and again, cutting the lead down to as little as one point with a minute left in the quarter, but the Pirates had an answer every time. Whether it was a three from Fountain or a scoop and score from Samuels, the Pirates stayed a step in-front of Villanova the whole way.
However, it was the final quarter in which Villanova kicked it into high gear and everything fell apart for the Pirates.
"There were a couple unfortunate moments when they beat us up on the offensive glass," Assistant Coach Nick DiPillo said after the game. "They're the kind of team where they make you defend for 25 to 30 seconds, if you let them get an offensive rebound they're going to make you defend for almost a minute...it kind of takes its toll."
Villanova took their first lead of the game early in the final quarter, extending it to as big as an eight-point cushion in the middle of the fourth. The Pirates fought back, chipping it down to a five-point game with just under two minutes left in the game. Ultimately, a corner three by Villanova's Kelly Jekot proved to be the back-breaker for the Pirates.
With their most recent loss, the Pirates fall to 2-5 in the Big East and 10-8 overall.
After the game Coach DiPillo addressed the media and immediately sung the praises of Shadeen Samuels.
"From the beginning, her effort, her energy, her focus was terrific and one thing her numbers don't show is how locked in defensively she was," Coach DiPillo said. "She was a big reason why we were so good in the first half defensively...On the offensive end, she did a good job of taking what was there, she was aggressive but patient at the same time."
Samuels finished with 20 points on an efficient 8-of-11 from the field along with nine rebounds and two assists.
Fountain finished with a game high 28 points to go along with 13 rebounds.
The Wildcats were paced by Kelly Jekot who poured in 21 points including the dagger at the end of the game. Adrianna Hahn was kept quiet for the most part scoring just eight points on 2-of-11 from the field.
On the injury front for the Pirates, during warm ups before the game, redshirt sophomore Taylor Brown went down with what seemed to be a lower body injury. She was helped up and carted off in a wheel chair. Her status is unknown at this point.
The Pirates continue their home stand with games against Georgetown and St. Johns coming up. The Hoyas visit Walsh Gym this Sunday with tip scheduled for 1 p.m. Catch all the action live on 89.5 FM WSOU.
Alex Melillo can be reached at email@example.com.