Rather than show any jitters at the start of the 2014-15 season, the Seton Hall women’s basketball team was instead jarring.
The Pirates grabbed immediate control of Friday’s season opener, muscling past Rider at home in the opening round of the WNIT, 66-47. Although a little erratic in terms of shooting and not quite the Broncs’ equal in rebounding, Seton Hall rolled with its defense by forcing 31 turnovers. Tabatha Richardson-Smith finished with 19 points and five rebounds, and Janee Johnson added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Pirates (1-0).
Seton Hall will play the winner of Saturday night’s game between West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky in the quarterfinal round of the WNIT.
Rider never had a glimpse of progress, as the Pirates forced 21 turnovers in taking a 38-14 lead at halftime. Richardson-Smith hit four 3-pointers in the first half, and the Pirates’ defense did the rest to build the big lead as the Broncs went almost 7 ½ minutes without scoring at one point. Rider labored inside and out in the first 20 minutes, going 0-for-3 from the free-throw line and 0-for-5 from 3-point range.
The Broncs ended up outrebounding Seton Hall (44-34) and was a touch better from the field (39 percent to 38 percent), but was a woeful 11-of-25 from the free-throw line as the Pirates preserved a 20-point lead until the final minute of action. Rider was led by Robin Perkins, who had 16 points and five rebounds.
Seton Hall’s Ka-Deidre Simmons kept the backcourt humming along with 14 points, four rebounds and six assists; Bra’Shey Ali scored 10 points and five rebounds.