Fairfield, CT – Maggie Cosgrove's (Andover, MA) trey from the left corner broke a 59-59 tie with 36 seconds remaining as the SHU women's basketball team earned a 64-61 victory over first-place Saint Francis (PA) Saturday afternoon. Alexis Campbell (Ashburn, VA) added a career high eight points and tallied three steals as the Pioneers forced 24 Red Flash turnovers. Callan Taylor (Overland Park, KS) and Ericka Norman both reached double-digits in scoring posting 18 and 12, respectively.
Saint Francis (PA) (12-9, 7-3 NEC) took an early 5-2 advantage as Samantha Leach hit the game's first three-pointer. Leach, the NEC's leading scorer finished with 20 to lead the Red Flash. Freshman Enjoli Bland (Queen Creek, AZ) put in the next four points with the last two coming after an offensive rebound. Bland rounded out her day with a career high six boards, securing five in the first half.
Sacred Heart (12-8, 6-3) opened up an 18-12 cushion at the 12 minute mark as Cosgrove and Taylor stuck jumpers on back-to-back possessions. Alexandra Williams was the hot hand off the bench for Saint Francis (PA) in the opening stanza, pouring in 10 points. A William's long ball propelled SFU into the lead at 23-20 with nine minutes left in the half. Ericka Norman (Chino Hills, CA) scored all six points in a 6-0 SHU spurt to end the half. Norman hit a tear drop floater in the lane at the buzzer as Sacred Heart held a 33-26 edge into the intermission.
The Pioneers held a 21-14 rebounding advantage in the opening frame, including nine offensive boards that turned into ten second chance points. The Pioneers shot 45 percent (14-31) from the floor in the first twenty minutes. Saint Francis (PA) went 32 percent (6-19) from the field in the half and went 11-for-16 (69%) from the free throw line while SHU took just five foul shots the entire first half.
The Red Flash got the first five points of the second half but Norman answered with her second three of the game to keep SHU on top, 36-31. Saint Francis (PA) continued the surge out of the locker room and regained the lead 41-40 on Allison Daly triple following a SFU offensive rebound. Cosgrove had the answer for the Pioneers with a three-pointer of her own to catapult Sacred Heart back in front.
Campbell and Taylor combined for seven of the next eight Pioneer points as SHU staged a 10-0 run to build a 55-45 cushion with 6:00 remaining in regulation. Morgan Merriman (Seattle, WA) capped off the spurt with two of her six total points on a tough layup in traffic. Sacred Heart led 59-48 when the Red Flash came storming back.
Saint Francis (PA) relied on Leach, who had been relatively quiet until the game's final stages, for seven points as SFU scored 11 straight. Leach hit a running jumper in the lane to knot the game at 59-59 with exactly 1:00 on the clock.
On the ensuing possession Kiley Evans (Cazenovia, NY) drove the lane and kicked the ball out to an open Cosgrove. The all-time SHU leader in there-point field goals buried the triple to put SHU on top 62-59 and provide Evans with one of her three assists of the game. Norman paced the Pioneers with five helpers on the afternoon.
SHU got a defensive stop on the next trip up the floor and Evans hit one-of-two at the foul line to make it a two possession game. Leach got another lay-in but the Red Flash were forced to foul and put Taylor at the charity stripe with 4.4 seconds to play. Taylor, a 94 percent free throw shooter, got the front end of the one-and-one but missed the second. Leach put up a trey at the buzzer in traffic but missed the mark as Sacred Heart came away with the 64-61 win.
The Sacred Heart women's basketball team returns to the court Monday night in the William H. Pitt Center for a NEC showdown with Robert Morris. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm.