Fairfield, CT - Junior Callan Taylor (Overland Park, KS) posted season highs of 26 points and 16 rebounds as the SHU women's basketball team picked up a 54-44 home victory over Bryant Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers recovered from a five point deficit at the half, marking the team's first come from behind win since January of last season. Sacred Heart's biggest edge was at the free throw line, shooting 18-for-21 (85.7%) from the charity stripe.
Bryant (5-11, 2-3 NEC) opened the game with an 8-2 run over the first five minutes, capped off by a Naana Ankoma-Mensa layup. Taylor scored the Pioneers first four points before a Morgan Merriman (Seattle, WA) cut the Bryant lead to 9-6. The Bulldogs would rattle off six straight points to extend the cushion back to nine at 15-6.
Sacred Heart (10-6, 4-1 NEC) would answer with nine straight points, all coming on treys. Maggie Cosgrove (Andover, MA) got it started with a long ball from the right wing. On the next SHU possession Taylor hit a straight away three to give the Pioneers the momentum. One minute later Cosgrove buried a trey from the left wing to knot the game at 15-15 with 10:15 remaining in the first half.
The Bulldogs held the Pioneers without a field goal in the final 7:01 as Bryant outscored SHU 11-6 down the stretch to take a 26-21 lead into halftime. Taylor paced Sacred Heart with nine points and seven rebounds in the first half. SHU forced 13 Bryant turnovers in the opening twenty minutes but were unable to turn any Bryant miscue into points. The Bulldogs shot 43.5 percent (10-23) in the first half while holding the Pioneers to a 25 percent clip (7-28).
Kiley Evans (Cazenovia, NY) notched the first points of the second half on the opening possession with a reverse layup. After a pair of Taylor free throws made it a one point game the Bulldogs engineered a 7-0 run, including a three from Lindsey Mudspeth to make it a 33-25 affair. The Pioneers would fight their way back into the game with an 8-2 spurt. The end of the run came as the SHU press got a turnover to setup in an easy lay-in for Blair Koniszewski (Vienna, VA) to make it 35-33 and force a Bryant timeout.
The teams then combined to go for a 4:31 slump without a field goal. Evans ended the drought on the floor with a three-ball to level the score at 38-38. After the Bulldogs answered with a layup Taylor took over the SHU offense. The junior forward knocked down a pair of trey's to give the Pioneers a 44-40 advantage. The two teams traded free throw's until Taylor completed a conventional three-point play to make it a 48-42 game with 2:30 remaining in regulation.
"Callan is just a warrior," commented SHU head coach Ed Swanson. "She single handedly won the game for us today."
The Pioneers sealed the game at the free throw line, making six-of-six down the stretch. Freshman Ericka Norman (Chino Hills, CA) made all four of her attempts while Evans also went a perfect two-for-two. Sacred Heart forced 22 Bryant turnovers and recorded an impressive 11 steals, led by three from Maureen Reilly (Cherry Hill, NJ).
The SHU women's basketball team returns to action Monday night at the William H. Pitt Center as they welcome Central Connecticut State for a 7:00 pm clash.