2022 Columbia vs Seton Hall - Women's

Seton Hall Women's Basketball Preview: Strong Finish A Positive Sign

Seton Hall Women's Basketball Preview: Strong Finish A Positive Sign

By the end of last season, many BIG EAST women's basketball fans were talking about Seton Hall. A big finish to the year is a positive sign for the team.

Oct 18, 2022 by Briar Napier
Seton Hall Women's Basketball Preview: Strong Finish A Positive Sign

For much of the season, few BIG EAST women's basketball fans were thinking much about Seton Hall.

By the end of the season, many BIG EAST women's basketball fans were thinking much about Seton Hall.

The Pirates had a stunning late-year turnaround, going from a losing record in early February to nearly pulling off a thrilling postseason tournament victory that got the attention of opponents and onlookers across the conference. 

The team's winning formula was tough to stop for any team in the league, or outside of it, giving it a dangerous group no one wanted to play late in the year.

Now, with many of those key players from that run back in action, the Pirates could make some serious noise in the BIG EAST standings this season. But whether or not the good vibes were just a flash in the pan or an indicator of sustained success will be key in Seton Hall's end-of-year position in a few months.

What is there to look out for with Seton Hall women's basketball this season? 

Below is a look into what the Pirates will bring to the table for the 2022-2023 season, as FloHoops previews every women's basketball team in the BIG EAST.

2021 Season Review

Seton Hall was a late bloomer last season, and that isn't more evident than by comparing the Pirates' play prior to February and beginning in February. 

Coach Anthony Bozzella's team at one point was 8-10 overall and struggling in the BIG EAST, with a host of lopsided defeats on its resume, which put the squad far out of the NCAA Tournament discussion. 

A switch seemed to turn on as soon as February hit, starting with a 29-point win over Georgetown on Feb. 2. The Pirates went 10-2 the rest of the way against conference foes, playing spoiler in the BIG EAST Tournament by beating Creighton in a quarterfinal thriller, before losing to Villanova. 

The fun didn't stop there. 

Seton Hall earned a WNIT invite for its efforts and kept the mojo going, making a memorable run to the tournament final. The Pirates won five games, before losing to South Dakota State for the title. 

Still, the team earned its peers' respect with its late-season surge, finishing as the winner of 16 of its final 19 games. Stars Lauren Park-Lane (18.4 points, 6.7 assists per game) and Sidney Cooks (15.3 points, 7.8 rebounds) earned both All-BIG EAST first-team honors and All-WNIT recognition. 

A fun, efficient team that scored a bunch of points (68.9 per game), yet also rarely turned the ball over while doing it (1.18 assist-to-turnover ratio), the Pirates found a formula late in the season that worked, and it could push them to a full season of success this time around.

On The Court

How exactly did Seton Hall go from a near afterthought to a WNIT finalist in a span of about two months? The short answer is that the Pirates really began to lock in on offense, starting with the Georgetown game in early February, and rolled with all the positive results that came with it.

After not scoring 90 or more points previously, Seton Hall scored 90 four times from that point and took the high-powered attacks of the league head-on to great success, beating Villanova, Creighton and DePaul (among others) during the season's final two months. 

Also, as hinted, the Seton Hall's analytics-friendly style tended to keep it in games, with the Pirates being very good at limiting foul trouble (13.1 fouls per game) and keeping stars, such as Park-Lane and Andra Espinoza-Hunter, who played 38.4 and 37.7 minutes per night, respectively, on the floor as much as possible to make a difference. 

However, Seton Hall also needed to put up a lot of points most nights, as the defense (68.4 points allowed per game) wasn't great, and the Pirates were among the worst in the league in rebounding, especially on the offensive glass (9.4 offensive rebounds per game), which was second-to-last in the BIG EAST. 

If the Pirates improve on those aspects with the offensive firepower they're returning (along with the newcomers who could provide a spark), the good vibes that ended last season easily could continue. 

Key Returner

Lauren Park-Lane, G, Sr., Wilmington, Delaware

A dark horse candidate for BIG EAST Player of the Year, fans of the league's women's basketball scene have known all about Park-Lane for a long, long time. 

One of the most heavily used players in all of America - no player in the entire country played more total minutes than her - Park-Lane went from a great player to a star last season, especially during the Pirates' late-season charge that saw them nearly earn some postseason silverware. 

She scored 20 or more points 18 times, including four games in a row to start the Hall's WNIT run, but it was her establishment as the BIG EAST's assist-per-game queen (league-best 6.6 per game in conference play) that made her known as not just a scorer, but an elite playmaker and offensive creator adept at making plays, both for herself, and for the teammates around her. 

Throw in a 39.1% clip from 3-point range, a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio and solid defense (1.6 steals per game) to boot, and Park-Lane has earned the right to be called one of the BIG EAST's most complete players and a matchup nightmare for whichever teams Seton Hall suits up against this winter. 

Park-Lane is the heartbeat of the Pirates, and with her top option in the post, Cooks, returning, it'll make for a lethal pick-and-roll game few teams in the conference will have a blueprint to stop.

Key Addition

Alexia Allesch, F, Gr., Basking Ridge, New Jersey

Senior guard/forward Kae Satterfield deserves a mention as someone who has walked the walk in the BIG EAST before with Xavier, having averaged 11 points and 7.2 rebounds with the Musketeers last season, but Allesch is a double-double per night threat who could pair with Cooks to give the Pirates one of the league's most fearsome post duos. 

Plus, Allesch also is a familiar face to the rest of the program - she already spent two years with Seton Hall (her sophomore and junior seasons), starting all 18 games played in the 2020-2021 season, before transferring and spending a year at Appalachian State. 

Down in Boone, North Carolina, Allesch's game flourished. She scored 13.5 points and tallied 9.7 rebounds per night with the Mountaineers, with 10 double-doubles in 19 games played, earning her the Sun Belt Conference's Newcomer of the Year honor and an all-conference second-team selection. 

Now back in her home state, Allesch has the confidence of a career year behind her and prior rapport with the Pirates' players and coaching staff, making her a candidate to break out and be a weapon on what could be a very, very good Seton Hall team.

Game To Watch: Seton Hall Vs. Princeton

One of the most dangerous mid-major programs in the country, Princeton is a program that doesn't lose often. 

Over their past two seasons, the Tigers have only been defeated six times, and despite the fact that Princeton didn't play in 2020-2021 due to the Ivy League suspending competition because of the pandemic, the Tigers bounced back from the hiatus to go 25-5, win the Ivy and beat All-American Rhyne Howard's Kentucky team in the NCAA Tournament, before falling to Indiana in the second round. 

It's a heck of an early test for Seton Hall. If the Pirates win or show they're going to be competitive against teams likely to compete for a March Madness spot, it may be a good predictor of what's to come. 

Though Ivy League Player of the Year Abby Meyers has transferred to Maryland, senior guard and two-time first-team All-Ivy pick Julia Cunningham (13.3 points, 5.4 rebounds per game last year) is still around with the potential to grow into one of the top mid-major players in the country. 

Junior guard Kaitlyn Chen had a stellar finish to last season, too, winning the Ivy League Tournament's Most Outstanding Player Award and scoring in double figures in her final eight games, including a 30-point outburst in the Ivy title game against Columbia. 

Seton Hall has its work cut out for it, but if the Pirates win this game, the entire BIG EAST will be put on notice.