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No. 25 Pirates Down UNI, 57-49, For Rivieria Division Title

Seton Hall womens basketball head coach Tony Bozzella and assistant coach Lauren DeFalco. (Photo by John Jones - Double G Media)

Seton Hall womens basketball head coach Tony Bozzella and assistant coach Lauren DeFalco. (Photo by John Jones – Double G Media)

The Seton Hall women’s basketball team defeated Northern Iowa 57-49 on Friday night to win the Rivieria Division of the Cancun Challenge.

Rivieria division MVP Tabatha Richardson-Smith scored nine of her game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Pirates to victory. The contest marked the Pirates final outing in the 2015 Cancun Challenge, as The 7-0 Hall finished as the lone unbeaten in the six-team Riviera Division.

Richardson-Smith finished her tournament averaging 19.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game to take home MVP honors.

The Hall also got 17 points from Aleesha Powell for the second-straight night, while Lubirdia Gordon led the way with eight rebounds and six blocks to anchor the Pirate defense. The Hall held Northern Iowa to 23.8 percent shooting from the floor and 12.9 percent from 3-point range and out-scored the Panthers 32-16 in the paint. Taylor Byrne chipped in with career-highs with six points and three rebounds off the bench.

Trailing by four at the U-5 timeout in the third quarter, the Hall reeled off an 11-2 run over the final 4:07 of the third to take a five-point advantage and build a lead it would hold the rest of the way.

Madison Weekly led the way for UNI with 15 points and six rebounds.

The play from Richardson-Smith has been relentless as the senior notched her third 20-point game of the season and the 24th of her career.

“Tonight wasn’t easy,” the senior said. “We stuck together our coaches stuck their with us and we played Seton Hall basketball.”

The Pirates are off to their first 7-0 start since winning eight-straight to kick off the 1989-90 season.

Seton Hall head coach Tony Bozzella was thrilled with his teams performance in Cancun.

“I’m just happy for the girls because again we beat a very good team,” he said. ”They were ready for us and had a great defensive plan but the kids stayed with it, they fought. In the end the kids had my back and came through.”

The Pirates will take a short break before a trip to Athens, Ga. and a date with SEC foe Georgia on Sunday, Dec. 6. The Hall and the Bulldogs will square off at 2 p.m.

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