Monday, February 15, 2016

Seton Hall 60, Villanova 50: Ray Floriani's Tempo-Free Analysis

Tabatha Richardson-Smith meets the media after becoming Seton Hall's all-time leading scorer. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)

South Orange, NJ­ - On Valentine’s Day, it was appropriate that Seton Hall showed a lot of heart in a Big East battle with contrasting storylines. Seton Hall entered coming off a three-game losing streak, having dropped a home game against Georgetown on Friday. Villanova came in winners of three of the last four, most recently Friday’s win at St. John’s. In the end, the competitive nature of this league was on display, as Seton Hall defeated Villanova, 60­-50, at Walsh Gymnasium.

First quarter: The essential good start was realized by Seton Hall, with a 9-3 lead after five minutes, a beginning so vital considering the Pirates were in a three-game slide. Seton Hall went man-to-man against the well-chronicled Villanova motion offense. On their offensive end, the Pirates are four out with a single post, often setting screens to free a guard on the perimeter. The three is a weapon, and especially lethal in the hands of the Wildcats. Two treys get Villanova right back within two with two minutes left.

Score: Seton Hall 12, Villanova 11

Second quarter: Seton Hall's rotation is big. Tabatha Richardson­-Smith does a lot of damage from the perimeter, yet has size as a six-­foot guard. Love how Villanova beats a press, not by dribbling, but passing, shades of Fordham's Jeff Neubauer on Wednesday. Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella traps the guards in any corner situations in the front court. Seton Hall starts to get some penetration by the guards with favorable results. It will come down to the letter P: Villanova perimeter matching Seton Hall penetration, and who can successfully will their game plan. The shot chart shows Villanova with three second quarter field goals, all from beyond the arc. Seton Hall had seven, including five in the paint and one from downtown.

Halftime: Seton Hall 30, Villanova 22
Possessions: Villanova 32, Seton Hall 31

Offensive efficiency: Seton Hall 97, Villanova 69

Third quarter: The first five possessions saw Villanova enjoy a 5­-0 edge, cutting their deficit to three at 6:27 mark. The perimeter continues to pose a defensive problem for the Pirates. At the five-minute media timeout, the score is knotted at 33. Seton Hall stays man-to-man. The focus is on getting through screens and effectively closing out. A two-possession game as the quarter expires is still very much up for grabs.

Score: Seton Hall 42, Villanova 38

Fourth quarter: The same script starts this final quarter, as Seton Hall builds a six-point lead, and Villanova answers with a pair of threes. With five minutes to go, it is knotted at 46. Size inside helps Seton Hall get a run to go out to a five-point lead with just over two minutes left. The Pirates seem to be in control, ahead seven with just under a minute left. Credit a great deal of this to Richardson-­Smith, a senior coming through when her team dearly needed it most. An added accolade, during this fourth quarter run, she became the all-time leading scorer in Seton Hall history as the Pirates salt it away on the charity stripe.

Final: Seton Hall 60, Villanova 50
Possessions: Villanova 63, Seton Hall 62

Offensive efficiency: Seton Hall 97 Villanova 79

Four Factors:
eFG%: Villanova 38, Seton Hall 46
FT Rate: Villanova 7, Seton Hall 35
O-Reb%: Villanova 18, Seton Hall 39

Turnover Rate: Villanova 13, Seton Hall 23

Leading Scorers:
Seton Hall­: Tabatha Richardson­-Smith (27 points, EF 36)

Villanova:­ Alex Louin (13 points, EF 19)

What Villanova did well: Shoot the ball. Granted, their overall eFG mark was well under 50 percent. The Wildcats did hit 13 three-pointers, a number of which gave Villanova momentum and stopped Seton Hall from pulling away.

What Seton Hall did well: Weather the flurry of threes. The game saw five ties and nine lead changes. Losing leads could have placed the Pirates in a tenuous position, but each time, they were able to battle back and meet the challenge.

Villanova scored four two-point field goals of the 19 they attempted inside the arc. Lubirdia Gordon of Seton Hall led all rebounders with 11. The offensive rebound and free throw rates disparity epitomize the perimeter orientation of the Wildcats, who were just 3-of-4 from the line. Seton Hall was 13-of-18. Very simply, if you live on the perimeter, your visits to the line will be less frequent.

In numbers related to turnover and rebounding metrics, Villanova took advantage of Pirate miscues, with a 16-­3 edge in points off turnovers. Seton Hall, on the other hand, enjoyed an 18­-4 advantage in second chance points.

Louin was Villanova’s lone double-digit scorer. Aleesha Powell scored 16 points to join Richardson­-Smith in the ranks of double-digit scoring. Villanova is now 9-6 in conference, while Seton Hall improved to 8-6.

Final Thoughts
“We were inconsistent at times. I thought we didn’t play poorly, but we have to score more than 50. We can’t let them get 60. We have to hit around 15 threes in order to win. Tabatha Richardson-­Smith made plays down the stretch. She is such a defensive problem because she can just shoot over us. She is a physical player, and is difficult to stop from getting shots.” ­- Villanova coach Harry Perretta

“I thought we played great defense and were able to bounce back (from Friday) and get the win. It is great playing alongside her (Richardson-
Smith). I am so proud of her, and she just makes our team more confident having her on the floor.” ­- Aleesha Powell, Seton Hall

“When I came to the gym today, the main focus was getting the win. No way I wanted to lose two in a row at home. Scoring-wise, I didn’t think about the record. I just did whatever was needed to win.” ­- Tabatha Richardson­-Smith, Seton Hall’s all­-time leading scorer

“I am proud of our effort. We struggled lately in giving an effort, but today we had it. It has been a struggle lately with injuries. (Jordan) Molyneaux and (Claire) Lundberg stepped up when we needed it. We have been depleted, so yesterday there was no practice, just watching film. Today, we had a good shootaround. Tab took over at the end. She wants to win very badly, and took to losing lately very tough. We held them to just four two-point field goals. That was significant. Our game plan was to encourage them to shoot threes, but a few feet farther out than where they wanted to.” -­ Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella

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