Seton Hall, Rutgers
(Photo by David Siegrist - JSN)

Seton Hall overwhelms Rutgers with second half surge

Seton Hall Pirates women's basketball squared off against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Walsh Gymnasium in South Orange, New Jersey on Wednesday. 

Both teams entered the contest with identical records of 2-1. Seton Hall was coming off a convincing 73-45 victory over Bryant, in which sophomore Micah Gray, dropped 22 points. On the flipside, Rutgers fell to Auburn 76-56 at Jersey Mike's Arena in Piscataway. Kaylene Smikle led the team with 19 points.

The Pirates jumped out to an early 10-4 lead behind the red-hot shooting of graduate guard/forward Azana Baines, unleashing a pair of trifectas. Gray canned a triple that boosted the Pirates advantage to 15-6 at the five-minute mark.

By the time the period ended, the Pirates were up 24-16, with Baines reaching double figures with 10 points and Gray contributing eight points. Seton Hall drained four treys while perfect from the free-throw line, hitting six shots.

Scarlet Knights junior guard/forward Destiny Adams, the primary source of offense, notched eight points, while sophomore guard Mya Petticord chalked up five points.

In the second quarter, Rutgers answered with a 7-0 spurt to trim the Pirates lead to 24-21 with eight minutes remaining. Senior center Chyna Cornwell spun around in the paint, then elevated for a shot off the glass as Cornwell was fouled and sank the free throw to complete the three-point play.

However, Seton Hall responded with a 6-0 run as Baines tallied all the points. Baines displayed her versatility from the field by knocking down a jumper, stealing the ball, driving to the rim for a lay-up, and swishing free throws.

The Pirates' defense exhibited a tenacious full-court press, leading the Scarlet Knights into committing turnovers and transition buckets. Once the teams hit their respective locker rooms at halftime, Seton Hall expanded their lead to 40-28. The Pirates were on fire from the charity stripe line, dropping in 14 of 17 shots, 17 to 7 in points off turnovers, and 15 to 8 in second-chance points.

Seton Hall jumped out of the gates fast in the third quarter with a 9-2 burst that boosted the margin to 49-30 with eight minutes left. The Pirates in the zone from the field shot nearly 60 percent while unleashing three daggers from behind the arc as Gray hit two of them. Once the period concluded, Seton Hall had a commanding 64-46 advantage.

The Pirates went on to coast to the 82-63 win over Rutgers to improve to 3-1 on the season. Baines finished with a game-high 25 points, Gray totaled 18, and Savannah Catalon added 10.

Seton Hall Head Coach Tony Bozella on the victory: "A great team effort against a solid Rutgers team. We came out with great energy and offensively did a lot of great things. Defensively we took six charges and our players were willing to sacrifice their bodies."

"Azana (Baines) came out tonight and imposed her will and she's a tremendous basketball player and worked on her game and proud of her. Amari ran the team beautifully, finished with 11 assists and she was wonderful. Savannah (Catalon) came off the bench and was phenomenal."

Amari Wright dished out a team-high 12 assists. Seton Hall dominated points off turnovers 30-13, controlling the edge in second-chance points 22-13 and the Pirate bench supplying 21 points.

Destiny Adams paced Rutgers (2-2) with 27 points, while Kaylene Smikle chipped in with 13.

Scarlet Knights head coach Coquese Washington on the loss: "Destiny was in the right spot, learning to be dominant and impacting the game every night. It was good to see her do that."

"Seton Hall played their game for all 40 minutes to be honest and they came in and played with a lot of confidence, toughness and really aggressive. They set the tone from the beginning with their aggressive play and it just continued throughout the game. It's a game of spurts and they had a couple of  them in the first and second quarters."

Seton Hall returns to action on Monday, November 20, facing USC in the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship in Nassau, Bahamas, with tip-off set for 9 p.m. Meanwhile Rutgers welcomes St. Francis (PA) into Jersey Mike's Arena on Saturday at noon.

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