Game preview: Seton Hall hosts Butler on Senior Day and season finaleDate: February 29, 2020
By: Heaven Hill
Days after pulling away to defeat the Xavier Musketeers 69-59 to pick up their 10th conference win, the Seton Hall Pirates return to Walsh Gymnasium for a rematch against the Butler Bulldogs at 7 p.m.
In the Pirates’ last game out against Xavier, it was another comeback win in-conference for Seton Hall, as they trailed at one point by eight in the second quarter and were down, albeit by a point, at halftime. This was particularly surprising as the Musketeers entered the game with a 3-24 record on the season, including 2-14 in conference.
Luckily for head coach Tony Bozzella and his squad, they avoided the losing streak and pulled away in the third quarter. Alexis Lewis finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds and three other Pirates joined her in double figures in the victory.
The last time they played at Butler, it was probably the best win of the season for the Pirates, outside of the home victory over Marquette. The Hall trailed by as many as 15 points in the third, but had one of their most impressive quarters this season as they outscored the Bulldogs 24-8 in the final period.
In a game where Shadeen Samuels struggled (by her standards) and Desiree Elmore turning in a rough outing as well, it was Barbara Johnson and Lewis who combined for 35 points, with Lewis adding six steals of her own. With this game crucial to the BIG East standings, Elmore and Samuels will have to deliver to pick up the win.
On the opposing end we have the Butler Bulldogs, who enter this game 19-9 and 11-6 in conference. Coming off a loss to St. John’s, Kristen Spolyar and Katherine Strong stood out as they combined for 49 points and 14 rebounds in the overtime defeat.
Spolyar, in particular, is the focal point of the Bulldogs offense, averaging almost 19 points and seven rebounds a game. While Butler has other important players like Genesis Parker and Oumou Toure, both averaging over eight points a game on over 35% from behind the arc, stopping Spolyar will be key to a Seton Hall triumph.
Looking ahead to Sunday, another of Seton Hall’s keys to victory would definitely be to be cautious with fouls and sending the Bulldogs to the line. Butler ranks 11th in the nation in free throw rate and 5th in the nation in percent of their points from the line. This offsets their rough offense, so if the Pirates don’t give up easy points from the charity stripe, they should pull away with ease.
Another key for Seton Hall to pull out the win against the Bulldogs would be to win the turnover margin and turn Butler’s turnovers into easy points. Butler ranks eigth in the nation in steals per game and they force over 18 turnovers per game, but the Bulldogs also average over 16 turnovers of their own, contributing to a negative turnover margin as they only average under 12 assists a game. If the Pirates can control the tempo and make smart plays in the half court, their offense should overwhelm the Bulldogs with ease.
It should be a good one in historic Walsh Gymnasium, so make sure to tune in at 1 p.m., with Michael Daly and Wilnir Louis on the call.
Heaven Hill can be reached at email@example.com.