March 28, 2014
Seton Hall Media Relations
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The Seton Hall University women's basketball team played a classic game at Rutgers University in the third round of the 2014 WNIT but ultimately fell short in double overtime at the RAC, 91-79.
For the Pirates one of the most successful seasons in program history comes to an end as the Hall was appearing in the postseason for the first time since 2007 and the sixth time in program history. Seton Hall finishes the year at 20-14 overall, reaching the 20-win plateau for the eighth time and the first since 1995. The Pirates were appearing in the third round of the WNIT for the first time in program history.
The 34 games played this season matched a program record set all the way back during the 1978-79 season. Thursday night's game also marked the deepest into the year the Seton Hall women's basketball program ever played a game, eclipsing the previous record of March 26, 1976.
Seton Hall controlled a majority of the second half of play, and led by sophomore Tabatha Richardson-Smith the Pirates strung together their most important run of the game late in the second period. Richardson-Smith scored 25 of her team-high 28 points in the second half and overtime and her triple from the corner at 2:22 gave SHU its largest lead of the game, 60-52.
Rutgers would respond, ending regulation on a 10-2 run to force overtime. Betnijah Laney hit an off balance jumper in the paint to give Rutgers a 61-60 lead with 14 seconds remaining, the first lead for the Scarlet Knights in nearly 14 minutes. On the other end redshirt junior Ka-Deidre Simmons answered with a go-ahead shot of her own, hitting an off balance layup in the lane with just over four seconds to play.
On the ensuing Rutgers possession Briyona Canty was fouled by Simmons well above the 3-point line after she appeared to lose control of the ball with 0.2 seconds to play to send her to the line with a chance to win the game. The 67.3 percent free throw shooter hit one of two, and the game headed to overtime for the first time in series history.
Tyler Scaife, who scored a game-high 29 points, hit a baseline jumper on the first possession of overtime for RU as the Scarlet Knights built a six-point lead, their largest of the game to that point. Seton Hall would not back down, digging in defensively to stop the Rutgers offense on four-straight possessions to end the first overtime period. Still down by two with just 15 seconds to play Richardson-Smith drove the lane for a lefty lay-in to tie the score at 72-72, and Scaife misfired on the other end as the game headed to a second overtime period.
Seton Hall battled foul trouble for most of the night; Richardson-Smith scored just three points and played 10 minutes in the opening period because of three early fouls. That hurdle proved to be too much in the final overtime as Seton Hall saw four players foul out in the game as Rutgers opened the final stanza on a 13-0 run.
The Scarlet Knights, who entered the game as a 65.8 percent free throw shooting team on the season shot 15-fot-16 from the line in overtime alone and finished the game an incredible 35-for-41 (85.4 percent).
Richardson-Smith tied her career-high with five 3-pointers and shot 10-for-22 from the field to led the Pirates offensively. She finished the year with 582 points, the third-highest single-season total in program history. Simmons added 16 points and four assists for the Pirates, playing a career-high 46 minutes, and junior Alexis Brown (Jacksonville, Fla.) rounded out the Hall's double digit scorers with 11 points.
Outside of a moderate run in each direction the first half was played for the most part with either team leading by not more than a single possession for a majority of the period.
Despite shooting just 2-for-9 from the field to start the game Seton Hall trailed just 6-5 at the first media timeout, forcing three Scarlet Knight turnovers to limit their offensive opportunities. As the opening period neared the 10-minute mark Simmons orchestrated the first big point swing, scoring eight-straight points for the Hall over a span of just 2:28.
Simmons went high off the glass in transition to five the Pirates a 17-14 lead and then Brown hit her with an outlet pass off a Scarlet Knight miss for a third-straight layup, leading to a Scarlet Knight timeout. After the stoppage Simmons found Sidney Cook (Parkton, N.C.) streaking through the lane for a close-range bucket to complete an 8-0 run and extend the Pirate lead all the way to 21-14.
Rutgers answered, snapping Seton Hall's run with a Laney fall away jumper start a stretch of seven-straight points for the home team as the Pirates missed three-straight shots from the field. Rutgers built its largest lead of the half, 29-25, with just over three minutes remaining in the opening period, only to see Seton Hall close strong, regaining the 30-29 edge as Brown buried a triple at 1:49, the final points of the half for either team.