Fairfield, CT – The Sacred Heart women's basketball team hit a barrage of three-pointers, 14 total, setting a new program record en route to a 67-66 victory over Robert Morris Monday night. The Pioneers shot a blistering 63.6 percent (14-22) from beyond the arc to pick up their third straight win. Maggie Cosgrove (Andover, MA) led the way with 22 points and an impressive 6-of-7 from three-point land. Callan Taylor (Overland Park, KS) and Kiley Evans (Cazenovia, NY) each notched a double-double as SHU defeated a first-place team for the second consecutive game.
"I thought we had great intensity on defense tonight," commented head coach Ed Swanson. "We have found a way to win these close games and that's who we are. We are a gutsy team that plays tough defense."
Sacred Heart (13-8, 7-3 NEC) stormed out to a 11-5 advantage as Cosgrove poured in eight straight points for the Pioneers. Alexis Campbell (Ashburn, VA) made it a 13-5 affair on a fast break layup, forcing RMU head coach Sal Buscaglia to call the game's first timeout. SHU was on fire to start the game sinking 5-of-7 after the opening whistle.
Robert Morris (11-9, 8-2 NEC) answered with a 7-0 spurt to take an 14-13 advantage on a Kelly Hartwell jumper. Cosgrove ended the run at the 9:50 mark with one of her four treys of the opening stanza. The Colonials put together another 7-0 surge that ended on a Kristine Silaraja layup to make it 21-16, RMU. Morgan Merriman (Seattle, WA) scored the next Pioneer points with a reverse layup, she would finish with six on the night.
Back-to-back triples from Evans and Blair Koniszewski (Vienna, VA) catapulted Sacred Heart back in front 24-23 with 7:15 left in the half. Yohanna Morton tallied the final points of the half on a three-point play with 11.5 seconds remaining to send the game into halftime tied at 32-32. Morton finished the night with a team high 20 for the Colonials.
Cosgrove finished the opening stanza with 16 points while Taylor and Evans both hauled in eight rebounds. SHU was 12-29 (41.4%) from the floor and 8-13 (61.5%) from three in the first twenty minutes. Robert Morris did force 12 Pioneer turnovers in the first half but shot 13-35 (37.1%) from the field and only 4-9 (44.4%) at the charity stripe.
"I was definitely feeling it early tonight," said Cosgrove after the victory. "My teammates kept finding me open and the ball just kept going in."
Sacred Heart charged out of the break with a 9-0 run over the first 3:45 of the second half. The Colonials closed to within five but Taylor sunk one of her four threes of the game to make it 48-40. One minute later it was Taylor from deep again as SHU took its first double-digit lead of the game at 53-43 with 12:30 remaining in regulation.
The Colonials made another run at the Pioneers and cut the game to 58-55 on the strength of an Artemis Spanou long ball. Campbell had the answer for Sacred Heart, burying a triple from the left corner. Ericka Norman (Chino Hills, CA) supplied one of her team high five assists on the play. On the next possession Norman created offense with a steal and easy fast break lay-in to increase the Pioneer lead to eight, 63-55.
Sacred Heart finally cooled down and was held without a field goal until the one minute mark. Robert Morris took advantage and pieced together an 11-1 run that put the visitors on top 65-64 on a Mary Durojaye layup. But the Pioneers beat RMU back up the court and found Cosgrove all alone on the left wing. Cosgrove left no doubt setting her feet and burying her sixth three-ball of the game to put SHU on top 67-65 with a minute to play.
Morton had a chance to tie the game for Robert Morris at the free throw line but made just one-of-two as SHU led 67-66 with 29.1 seconds on the clock. The Pioneers missed the front end of a one-and-one and RMU took the ball with the shot clock off. Sacred Heart locked down defensively and it was up to a Morton running jumper in the lane at the buzzer. The ball bounced off the front rim, well short, and the celebration began as Sacred Heart claimed the 67-66 victory.
The Pioneers are now tied for third place in the NEC standings and sit one game behind the two teams it defeated this weekend, RMU and Saint Francis (PA), for first.
"This conference is so wide open and the last two games prove that if we play good team defense and are consistent offensively that we can compete with anybody," commented Cosgrove.
The Sacred Heart women's basketball team will next be in action on the road February 5th at St. Francis (NY).