By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor
Fresh off beating its first Big 12 opponent for the first time in program history in Kansas State, the Hofstra women's basketball team will be taking on another power conference in the Big East when the Pride hosts Seton Hall on Thursday night.
"It's a great challenge to be bringing in these big schools from big conferences here," said head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey. "They're a much improved team that we have to watch out for."
Seton Hall will be coming to Hofstra fresh off a 60-49 victory over fellow Colonial Athletic Association opponent Old Dominion. The Pirates are 5-2 on the season.
Senior guard Jasmine Crew will prove to be Seton Hall's main scoring threat, averaging 20.9 points per game (ppg).
Hofstra will try to bring its high powered offense to put points up against a defense that has allowed about 53 points per contest. The Pride has averaged 81 ppg in its first five games of the season.
Junior forward Shante Evans and sophomore guard Katelyn Loper are Hofstra's leading scorers so far this season, Evans averaging 17 ppg and Loper with 16.
With senior guard Candice Bellocchio coming back from missing a majority of the Pride's 70-60 win over Drake, look for an increase in assists. Bellocchio is averaging 4.8 assists and with Seton Hall bringing in a bigger line up to the Mack, the senior guard will have to be able to pick apart the defense finding either the open shot from the outside or down low to either Evans or senior forward Marie Malone, who had impressed Kilburn-Steveskey down in Cancun last weekend.
"Marie gave us great minutes," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "I hope she can provide more of that as the season goes on."
As it has been all year, Hofstra will be putting an emphasis on pace, trying to run Seton Hall out of the gym.
"There hasn't been much deflation," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "If something goes wrong we don't get too down on ourselves and we have to do that against Seton Hall on Thursday."
"X-Factor": A larger line-up like Seton Hall is sure to go after Evans and Malone to try and draw fouls and take them out of the game early. Look for sophomore forward Anma Onyeuku to provide solid minutes and some diversity not only under the basket, but in the mid-range game as well.