March 20, 2014 at 3:02 PM
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The women’s basketball team will make its sixth postseason appearance in program history and its first since 2007 as the Pirates host American University in the first round of the WNIT at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Head coach Anthony Bozzella has purchased 250 tickets, paid for out of his own pocket, for students to attend the game, according to Adam Satz, assistant director of athletics communication at Seton Hall University. Student section tickets are $4. General admission tickets are $12.
The Pirates finished with an overall record of 18-13, going 8-10 in conference play in Bozzella's first year. This is the first winning season for the Pirates since 2008-09 and the most victories for the team since 2006-07.
In the Big East Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the Pirates were picked to finish last in the 10-team conference, but key contributions from sophomore forward Tabatha Richardson-Smith and junior point guard Ka-Deidre Simmons led the Pirates to a seventh place finish.
Richardson-Smith made major strides this season and finished the year with a team-high 16.8 points per game. In her freshman season, the forward averaged just 4.9 points per game.
Richardson was named to the Second-Team All-Big East team and was recognized at the Big East Most Improved Player.
Simmons, a First-Team All-Big East selection, was a constant force on offense for the Pirates. The junior finished the year averaging 16.6 points per game, while dishing out 5.1 assists per game.
In the Big East Tournament Quarterfinals on March 9, Simmons passed Kathy O’Reilly’s single season assist record that stood for more than 25 years.
The team has seen a major spike in offense, thanks in large part to Bozzella’s fast-paced offense. The team averaged 71.0 points per game, the first time the team has recorded an average of more than 70 points per game since 1993-94.
American (22-9, 14-4 Patriot League) received its first ever at-large postseason berth and has won nine of 11 games since Feb. 1 with both losses coming to Patriot League champion Army, including a loss in the Patriot League Tournament semifinals.
The Eagles are led by do-it-all senior guard Alexis Dobbs, who averages 13 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 34.5 minutes per game.
The Pirates and Eagles have only squared off once, with the Hall winning 64-53 in 2005.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Walsh Gymnasium on the campus of Seton Hall University.
The reporter is a student participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.