Game preview: Seton Hall opens season against Sacred HeartDate: November 5, 2019
By: Jorie Mickens
The Seton Hall Pirates play their first regular season game Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. in Walsh Gymnasium against the Sacred Heart Pioneers.
The Pirates handled the Jefferson Rams in an exhibition game last Wednesday, winning 98-54. 2019-2020 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year Shadeen Samuels scored 18 points in 23 minutes of play. Freshman standouts Mya Jackson and Lauren Park-Lane contributed a combined 18 points and 13 assists in the win as well.
The Pirates finished with a 15-16 overall record last season, finishing eighth in the BIG EAST conference. On the backs of seniors Alexis Lewis, Barbara Johnson and Samuels, the Pirates will look to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
Samuels became just the second player in program history to be named BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year and she is also a member of the Cheryl Miller Award Watch List. Samuels led the BIG EAST in scoring last season, ranked 14 th in free-throw percentage and is arguably one of the best defenders in the entire country. Samuels also only needs 117 points to become the 22nd player in Seton Hall history to reach 1,000 career points, which based on her 18.3 points per game average from last season, should take about six games.
Johnson, who could not play last season due to NCAA transfer regulations, is one of Seton Hall’s most overlooked players. Johnson scored 17 points and shot 3/6 from three in the Pirates win over Jefferson, the Toronto-native will be a perfect complement to Samuels’ inside-out game. Lewis, another lights-out shooter, has never suited up for the Pirates but was a three-year standout at Iona College where she was a three-time ALL-MAAC selection. As junior last year, Lewis averaged 14.1 points and 8.4 rebounds and can play nearly every position on the floor.
With extremely talented veterans and freshman to round out the roster, the Pirates could have their best season they have had in the last five years. Sacred Heart lost three starters and is only returning six players from last year’s 19-13 team, but 2018-19 ALL-NEC Third Team member Adrianne Hagood is returning for her junior season for the Pioneers.
Hagood and senior Allyson Murphy will take the reins of this Pioneers’ team that has seven new players on their squad. Murphy, one of two seniors on the Pioneers, scored double figures in five of the last 10 games of last season. Murphy averaged 7.8 points per game in that stretch compared to just 3.7 points per game in the first 22 games of the season.
The Pioneers were projected to finish third in the NEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll during the league’s media day in October. Ronny Castaneda and Christian Gardner are on the call, be sure to tune in to 89.5 FM WSOU for a 7:00 p.m. tipoff in the historic Walsh Gymnasium.
Jorie Mickens can be reached at email@example.com.