Fairfield, CT – The SHU women's basketball team overcame a 19-1 Monmouth run that opened the game and led by as many seven points in the second half but ultimately dropped a 59-54 decision Saturday afternoon. Callan Taylor (Overland Park, KS) recorded her Northeast Conference best 11th double-double of the season in the loss with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Freshman Ericka Norman (Chino Hills, CA) flirted with a triple-double tallying eight points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. The defeat drops the Pioneers into a four-way tie for third place in the NEC standings with one game remaining in the regular season.
Monmouth (20-8, 12-5 NEC) dominated the early stages of the game and scored the first ten points while outrebounding SHU 11-3 over 4:24 after the opening tip. The Hawks took a 19-1 advantage as Abby Martin and Alysha Womack each contributed six points in the first 12 minutes of action. The Pioneers started the game 0-for-13 from the field, including six missed three-pointers.
Sacred Heart (17-11, 11-6 NEC) got its first field goal as Taylor finished a layup and drew a foul at the 7:38 mark. The Pioneers slashed the deficit back to single digits, 19-10, as senior Maggie Cosgrove (Andover, MA) poured in five straight points, including the 249th trifecta of her career. The Hawks used a timeout to halt the SHU momentum and push their cushion back to 14 on a Womack lay-in with 3:18 remaining in the half. The Pioneers trimmed the game back to eight points entering the intermission as Morgan Merriman (Seattle, WA) and Taylor tallied the final two buckets of the period.
The Hawks shot just 13-40 (32.5%) in the opening twenty minutes but grabbed 13 offensive rebounds. Sacred Heart posted a 33 percent (8-24) mark from the field in the first half but also turned the ball over nine times. Both sides were ice cold from beyond the arc as Monmouth went 1-12 (8.3%) from downtown compared to the Pioneers 11 percent (1-9) clip. Taylor posted eight points and seven rebounds in the first half while Martin led all scorers with 10 points at the break.
The Pioneers came out of the locker room and immediately began to chip away at the Monmouth advantage. Kiley Evans (Cazenovia, NY) finished a fast break layup, with an assist from Norman, to make it a 33-29 affair and force a Hawks timeout. Two minutes later Alexis Campbell (Ashburn, VA) buried a trey from the left wing to bring SHU within one at 37-36. A pair of Taylor free throws gave Sacred Heart its first lead of the game at 38-37 with 13:35 remaining.
Merriman stretched the Pioneer cushion to 47-40 as the sophomore forward tallied four consecutive points. Monmouth then drew Taylor's fourth foul of the game with 6:32 on the clock to force the game's leading scorer to the bench. The Hawks took advantage of her absence to notch the contest's next seven points and knot the score at 47-47 on an Alexis Canady jumper.
Sacred Heart would be unable to regain the lead but leveled the game on three separate occasions in the final three minutes. Cosgrove added two of her 11 total points of the afternoon with a 15-foot jumper to even the score at 54-54. Erin Rooney put the Hawks on top 56-54 with a layup 1:06 before the final buzzer. On the next possession Campbell misfired on a three to put SHU ahead and Womack came down with the rebound. Canady knocked down a pair of free throws with 18 seconds left to make it a two possession game. Gabby Singer blocked the Pioneers next attempt up the floor to deny SHU any points. She corralled the loose ball and hit the final free throw of the game as the Hawks escaped the Pitt Center with the 59-54 victory.
Norman finished the game with seven assists while Taylor, the NEC leader in free throw percentage, went 8-of-9 at the charity stripe.
The SHU women's basketball team will conclude the regular season at home Monday night in a 7:00 pm tip-off with Fairleigh Dickinson. The Pioneers can still finish anywhere between third and sixth in the seeding for the 2011 Northeast Conference Tournament.