Monday, February 29, 2016

Seton Hall 71, Providence 54: Tempo-Free Analysis

Tony Bozzella and his staff confer during a timeout. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)

BY RAY FLORIANI

South Orange, NJ ­- The ceremony and recognition aside, not to trivialize its truly special meaning, on senior day, there was a game to play, as Providence (1-­16 in conference) visited 21-win (10­-6 in Big East) Seton Hall.

Providence started with an early five-point lead during the first quarter. The Friars were unable to sustain the early fortune as Seton Hall posted a convincing 71-­54 victory at Walsh Gym to close out the regular season.

First quarter: First possessions might clue us in on the respective game plans. Providence shoots (and misses) a three. Seton Hall’s Aleesha Powell goes to the basket (fouled and hits both). Two-and-a half-minutes in, five possessions down, Seton Hall leads 7-­4. Evidently, the Friars have chosen the perimeter as their offensive attack, and will roll the dice. The Friars are zoning and in the half court, Seton Hall is getting outside-oriented. Their best option is to get out in transition. Despite a slow first few minutes, the visiting Friars are proving a challenge, at least in this early going.


Seton Hall 24, Providence 18

Second quarter: The Pirates continue their late first-quarter surge. Their full court pressure is bothering Providence. The Hall lead is ten at the eight-minute mark. Providence double teams the Pirate guards out top. The response is a pin­point pass to a big down low. Court awareness by Seton Hall increases the lead to 16. Two possessions later, the Friars get it to ten. Though they have their problems with Seton Hall pressure, still Providence continues to give a good effort.

Seton Hall 42, Providence 30

Possessions: Providence 38, Seton Hall 37

Offensive efficiency: Seton Hall 114, Providence 79

Third quarter: Perimeter for the Friars to start the half. On the flip side, Seton Hall is attacking inside. The first five possessions saw the Hall blank the Friars to take a 48­-30 lead with 7:15 remaining. The Friars go almost four minutes before entering the scorebook. Shades of the “Pistol,’ as Tabatha Richardson­-Smith throws a behind-the-back, Pete Maravich­-style pass that ends in a transition basket for the Hall. Midway through the third, the Pirates are in command with a 54­-32 lead. In the last four minutes, Seton Hall had one field goal. It didn’t hurt, as the lead stayed intact.


Seton Hall 59, Providence 36

Fourth quarter: The lead is 23 when Seton Hall’s Jordan Mosley throws up a wild, off-balance shot airborne to the basket. Providence rebounds as coach Tony Bozzella, ever the perfectionist, shows an emotion of being less than pleased. Providence picks up a bit offensively. With just under four minutes to go, the deficit has been reduced to 15. The Friars are using full court pressure after scores. Seton Hall looks to attack it and finish in transition. The Hall responded well to Providence’s fourth quarter run. With less than a minute left, the Pirates are in command.

Final score: Seton Hall 71, Providence 54

Possessions: 73

Offensive efficiency: Seton Hall 97, Providence 74

Four Factors:
eFG pct: Providence 36, Seton Hall 42
FT rate: Providence 12, Seton Hall 35
OREB pct: Providence 27, Seton Hall 36

TO rate: Providence 18, Seton Hall 16

Leading scorers and EF:
Providence: ­Allegra Botteghi - 14 points, EF 27.

Seton Hall: ­Tiffany Jones - 18 points, EF 29.

What Providence did well: Compete and keep the turnover rate under 20 percent. Despite the final margin, Providence stayed with it and made a brief fourth quarter run. Coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl’s club was pressured, yet showed a turnover rate under 20 percent.

What Seton Hall did well: Play aggressive. “Senior day is emotional,” Pirate coach Tony Bozzella said. “Plus, we had a late game and that could mean the kids get nervous. But I feel they really responded and found a way to get it done.”

Botteghi was the only visitor in double figures. Seton Hall had three, but the story was a ‘big’ one. The Seton Hall interior players have improved and progressed as the year has worn on. Today, as noted, Tiffany Jones led in statistical areas and also in an area beyond measure­: Energy. Lubirdia Gordon, as Bozzella said, “anchored our defense.” Gordon’s line: Eight points, eight rebounds, four blocks in 13 minutes.

Overall, Seton Hall blocked 10 shots, and safe to say, altered a number of additional ones in the paint.

The Seton Hall guard play has been a big plus all season. As tournament time rolls around, the Hall is getting contributions on both ends of the floor from their ‘bigs.’ That makes last year’s tournament runners-­up a very dangerous team this go-round.

Providence ended the regular season 5­-23, Seton Hall 22­-7.

Final thoughts:
“It was exciting. I was trying to get to the basket and we all stayed aggressive. We wanted to go out with a bang. We are excited about the Big East Tournament. We’ll take it day by day. Play together, defend and play the ‘Seton Hall’ way.” ­- Aleesha Powell (13 points, 2 rebounds)

“Senior day is emotional, but we had a job to do. Nice to get the win, tied for second (Big East) and a three seed. WE have put ourselves in a position to go to the NCAA tournament with our conference standing and 22 wins. have been coaching a long time and Aleesha (Powell) is the best person I ever coached. She and Tabatha Richardson­-Smith make a backcourt, I won’t say is better than last year, but different. It is a credit to the two how they have everyone assimilated. Tiffany Jones had 18 (points) and 7 (rebounds), I don’t care about that. I care about the aggressiveness and energy she brought. Our goals going into the year were return to the NCAA Tournament and win the Big East. I feel we have accomplished the first, and have a chance at the second.” ­- Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella

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