Seton Hall’s red-hot shooting sinks Bulldogs

Butler’s Okako Adika attempts a layup while being fould in the Bulldogs’ win over Georgetown earlier this week. Adika led Butler with 18 points in their loss at Seton Hall, 83-68. Photo by Butler Women’s Basketball on Twitter.

The Butler women’s basketball team lost to Seton Hall, 83-68, in South Orange, New Jersey, as the Pirates completed a season sweep of the Bulldogs. Junior forward Okako Adika led the Bulldogs with 18 points and 8 rebounds and senior guard Jaia Alexander notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards. Guards Genesis Parker and Tenley Dowell added 14 and 12 points, respectively. Andra Espinoza-Hunter led the Pirates with 24 points, going 6-for-7 from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs fall to 1-8 on the season.

The Bulldogs offense opened up strong, scoring on three of their first four possessions, two buckets coming off mid-range jumpers from Alexander and a layup from Adika. Seton Hall’s offense got off to an even hotter start, and their points came from behind the 3-point line, starting off a scorching 4-of-4 from beyond the arc and taking an early 16-6 lead. Adika ended a 10-0 Pirate run after junior guard Annilia Dawn found her under the basket for an easy two.

Seton Hall didn’t let that phase them, going on a 10-1 run over the next three minutes where they hit two more 3-pointers and took their lead up to 26-9. The Pirates shot an absurd 6-for-6 from beyond the arc in the first quarter, and although some of the blame can be given to the Bulldogs’ perimeter defense, it’s nearly impossible to stop a team that is shooting that lights out. Over the last minute and a half of the quarter, Butler fought back into the game with a 6-0 run, capped off by a buzzer-beating layup from Alexander who finished the quarter with eight points.

The second quarter was the Bulldogs’ turn to heat up, with Adika hitting back-to-back threes early in the quarter to cut Seton Hall’s lead to eight. The Pirates responded quickly with their seventh three of the game — still with just a single miss — but Micah Sheetz came right back with a three of her own. The Pirates scored two layups on their next two possessions, but the Bulldogs continued to rain in the threes, with Emilia Sexton getting in on the action and Adika hitting her third consecutive three within just three minutes of action. After starting off 0-for-6 from three, the Bulldogs hit five in a row to start the second quarter.

On the Bulldogs next possession, Adika grabbed her own miss, spun and banked in the second chance shot to cut the lead down to just four points. A few possessions later, Parker hit her first field goal of the half on a 3-pointer that cut the lead to 38-37, after being down by 17 early in the first quarter. On the Pirates next two possessions, Espinoza-Hunter—who hit seven 3-pointers the last time these teams faced each other on Jan. 11 — hit two threes in a row to give the Pirates some breathing room. In between those threes, freshman point guard Tenley Dowell shook up the Seton Hall defense and hit a layup to keep the game within five.

Following a Seton Hall layup, Parker hit two free throws and assisted a short Alexander jumper, setting the score at 46-43 with 30 seconds to go. On the Pirates’ final possession of the half, who else but Espinoza-Hunter hit another three to give Seton Hall a 49-43 lead at halftime.

The first half of this game was a wild ride, and although it looked like the game could get out of hand for the Bulldogs after Seton Hall took an early 17-point lead, Butler fought right back into the game, which is a testament to how much better this team has gotten. Seton Hall shot an otherworldly 10-of-14 from beyond the arc and 65 percent from the field in the first half, so the fact that Butler stayed in the game is impressive in and of itself. Butler didn’t shoot as well from the field or from three as Seton Hall did, but they grabbed six offensive rebounds — three from Alexander — which gave them second chance opportunities of which they took advantage. If the Pirates hadn’t been so hot from all over the floor, Butler would have likely had the lead at half based on how they were playing offensively.

The Pirates came into the third quarter with a vengeance on defense, shutting out the Bulldogs for the first six minutes of the quarter. They forced turnovers, blocked shots, cleaned up the offensive glass and continued to put pressure on Butler’s defense. This excellent sequence of play gave Seton Hall a 9-0 run to take their lead up to 58-43. Dowell ended the Bulldogs long scoring drought with a 3-pointer to give Butler some life. 

Seton Hall’s Alexia Allesch hit a pair of free throws a couple possessions later, and Parker hit right back with a 3-pointer. Allesch hit a three of her own less than 10 seconds later, but on the next possession, Parker hit a three from her spot at the top of the key — her third of the game — to cut the lead to 11. However, the Pirates scored six points in a row over the last minute of the quarter to take their lead back up to 17. Dowell hit her second three of the quarter with 20 seconds left in the quarter, but Allesch converted an and-one just seconds later to give the Pirates a 72-55 lead at the end of the third.

The Pirates didn’t look back as the final quarter started, hitting a 3-pointer 30 seconds into the fourth. A minute later, Adika grabbed an offensive board and put it back up for two, drawing the foul in the process and converting the three-point play at the line. The Pirates dominated the offensive glass in the second half, which was on full display, as they grabbed two of their own misses on their next possession before Desiree Elmore scored a layup. 

After another Pirate score, Alexander scored an and-one of her own on a jumper, bringing her total to 13 on the day. Espinoza-Hunter hit her sixth three of the game on the next possession, giving the Pirates an 82-61 lead with seven minutes to play. The score remained there for the next three minutes before a single Pirate free throw, and then remained scoreless for another minute and a half before Dowell hit a layup. A pair of free throws from Dowell and a Sexton three with 12 seconds left were just a consolation prize as the score finalized at 83-68.

Butler’s next game is their biggest test of the season so far, as they take on No. 4 UConn on the road this Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m.

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