Strong First Half Leads Long Island Past Sacred Heart, 77-59

Brooklyn, NY – The SHU women's basketball team had its four game winning streak snapped Monday night as Long Island handed the Pioneers a 77-59 setback.  The Blackbirds shot a blistering 58.1 percent (18-31) from the floor in the first half, including 6-of-8 (75 %) from beyond the arc.  Sophomore Morgan Merriman (Seattle, WA) paced the Pioneer attack and established a new career high with 14 points.

Long Island (15-8, 7-5 NEC) got off to a hot start right after the opening tip, as Heidi Mothershead propelled her side to an 8-2 cushion in the first 90 seconds with a pair of trifectas.  The Pioneers closed to within three at 10-7 as Kiley Evans (Cazenovia, NY) completed a conventional three point play.  Evans finished with 10 points as four SHU players reached double figures. 

Sacred Heart (14-9, 8-4 NEC) made it a two point game, 14-12, as Ericka Norman (Chino Hills, CA) buried one of her two treys of the night.  Norman tied a career best with 12 points and dished out six assists, moving her total for the last three games to 18.  LIU used a 13-3 spurt, capped off by five straight points from Chelsi Johnson, to open up a 27-15 advantage.  SHU made a run of its to close to 30-25 with 6:30 to play in the half on an Alexis Campbell (Ashburn, VA) transition jumper.

The Blackbirds rallied to close the first half with an 11-0 surge and take a 42-27 lead into halftime.  At the break all eight LIU players who entered the game had at least four points.  Long Island held a 22-9 rebounding advantage after the first period while the Pioneers held a 13-10 edge in the turnover battle.

The Pioneers got a bucket on the opening possession of the second half as Callan Taylor (Overland Park, KS) got two of her 11 points on a layup.  Taylor finished just shy of her eighth double-double of 2010-11 as the junior tallied nine rebounds.  Ashley Palmer answered for LIU with a lay-in of her own on the next trip up the floor.  Palmer was a force all night for the Blackbirds, dropping in game highs of 19 points and 10 rebounds, including five offensive boards.

The two sides traded buckets throughout the opening stages of the final period until LIU made it a 20 point affair on a triple from Krystal Wells.  Maggie Cosgrove (Andover, MA) briefly found her grove and tallied five straight points to make it 59-43 and force a LIU timeout with 13:53 on the clock.  The Blackbirds came out of the break and got the next three baskets to slow down the Pioneers.

Sacred Heart would not be able to make another run as the Blackbirds were able to slow the pace I the game's final stages.  Merriman broke her career high with a jumper in the lane that fell in off the back iron with 3:34 to play.  Norman tallied the final five SHU points of the night, including the final three of the contest on her second three-pointer of the game.  Long Island's 77-59 win moves the Pioneers to 13-11 all-time against the Blackbirds and 4-6 versus LIU in Brooklyn.

The Pioneers will look to rebound and start a new winning streak as the league gears up for the upcoming Northeast Conference "rivalry week".  Sacred Heart will play back-to-back games against Nutmeg State rival Quinnipiac with the first game coming in Hamden, CT on Saturday afternoon.