The Storyline... The Sacred Heart women's basketball team returns to the William H. Pitt Center Monday night for a Northeast Conference match-up with Wagner College. The Pioneers will look to rebound after having a four game winning streak snapped with a 62-54 loss to St. Bonaventure last time out. SHU closed out its 2010-11 non-conference schedule with a 6-5 record, including the program's first ever win over a school from one of the major conferences. The Pioneers are 4-2 at home this season with both losses coming at the hands of opponents from the Atlantic 10. Wagner enters the Monday contest riding a three game winning streak, last knocking off Vermont and Dartmouth to win the Dartmouth Invitational. The Seahawks have also played one conference game this season, dropping an 85-72 decision at Quinnipiac.
Series... The Pioneers are 16-7 all-time against Wagner in a series that dates back to the 1978-79 season. Sacred Heart has won the last 11 meetings with the Seahawks, last falling to Wagner on the road December 13, 2003. In the program's division I era the Pioneers have lost just one home to the Seahawks, a 74-44 decision back in January of 2000.
Scouting the Seahawks... Kelly Clark paces the Wagner offense with 13.7 points per game, including a 30 point performance against NJIT. Ashley Olsen is the Seahawks biggest force on the glass, averaging 8.3 boards per game. Wagner ranks second in the Northeast Conference in scoring offense tallying just over 65 points per game. The green and white also sit atop the NEC rankings in field goal percentage this season, making 40.8 percent of their shots. The Seahawks are just one of three teams in the league to record a positive overall scoring margin this year.
SHU Against the NEC... The Pioneers have a 151-48 (.759) record in their 12 year history in the Northeast Conference. Along with a pair of league championships Sacred Heart is one of just two teams to go undefeated in league play and win the postseason tournament, accomplishing that feat back in 2009-10. SHU was triumphant in 11 of its first 12 conference games last season, including two victories over Wagner.
Taylor Reaches 1,000 Points... Callan Taylor dropped in 21 points against St. Bonaventure to become the 15th player in Sacred Heart history to reach the 1,000 point plateau in a career. The Kansas native is also the third fastest to reach the milestone, averaging 13.6 points in her first 74 games in a SHU uniform. Taylor also ranks second in the Northeast Conference in 2010-11 in field goal percentage, shooting 52.6 percent from the field. Taylor ranks first on the Pioneer squad and fifth in the league with a 42.5 percent mark from beyond the arc.
Taking Charity... The Pioneers have shot over 70 percent from the free throw line in six of their last seven games. SHU now ranks second in the Northeast Conference with a 71.4 percent mark from the line. Callan Taylor ranks among the national leaders at the free throw line, hitting 29 of 30 for 96.7 percent. Taylor has made 18 straight free throws with her last misfire coming in the Pioneers second game of the season against Saint Joseph's.
Swanson Approaches 350... Head coach Ed Swanson needs just three more victories to reach the 350 mark for his career. Swanson has spent his entire 21 year coaching career at his alma mater and is by far the winningest coach in program history. During his 11 years in the league Swanson has become the all-time leader in Northeast Conference victories with 151.
Cosgrove Finds Her Range... Senior Maggie Cosgrove has knocked down seven treys in the Pioneers last two games. Cosgrove finished the 2009-10 campaign among the nation's leaders in three-point field goal percentage. The Andover, MA native is Sacred Heart's all-time leader in three-point field goals with 214. Cosgrove still has more than half of her senior season to play as she continues to put distance between second place, Ashley Kohl (173).
No Late Comebacks... Sacred Heart is a perfect 5-0 when having the advantage entering halftime. SHU is even better, 7-0, after being on top with ten minutes remaining in regulation. However, the Pioneers are 0-5 this season when they trail with ten minutes left. The last Sacred Heart comeback victory occurred in January of 2010 against Central Connecticut State. In that game the Blue Devils led by one at the half and by six with 11:06 to play in regulation.
Historic Defensive Effort... Sacred Heart tied a division I record by holding Siena to a single field goal in the first half of a 72-33 victory. The Saints managed just seven total points and went one-for-20 (5%) from the field in the opening twenty minutes. For the game Siena managed to shoot just under 20 percent (10-51). The game marked the first time in SHU's division I history the Pioneers held an opponent to under 20 percent from the floor. The previous low came December 2, 2000 in a 70-52 win over Lehigh as the Mountain Hawks shot 20.4% (11-52).
Sacred Heart Tabbed Third In NEC Preseason Poll... The Pioneers enter the Northeast Conference portion of their schedule after being picked to finish third in the 2010-11 NEC preseason coaches poll. Long Island is the preseason favorite to capture the 2010-11 conference title, the Blackbirds received six first-place votes. Robert Morris, the defending regular season champion, came in just ahead of SHU in second and earned three first-place nods. The preseason poll has only correctly predicted the conference champion twice in the 25 year history of the Northeast Conference.
The Coaches... Ed Swanson (SHU '89) is in his 21st season as head coach at his alma mater. Swanson posts a 348-237 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 221-118 record since joining the Division I ranks in 1999-00. Swanson was inducted in to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 and is the program's longest tenured coach and all-time leader in coaching wins (348). He has been named the NEC Coach of the Year three times and is the all-time leader in regular season NEC wins (151). Gela Mikalauskas (Kean '77) enters her 17th season at the helm of the Wanger program. In 2009-2010, Mikalauskas led the Green & White back to the postseason for the first time since 2003-2004 while winning nine overall games and six NEC contests. Included was a win over eventual NEC Champion Saint Francis (PA) on the road.