December 5, 2011

Taylor and Norman Lead Pioneers to Victory Over Quinnipiac 74-65

Hamden, Conn.—Callan Taylor  (Overland Park, Kan.) scored a season-high 26 points to lead the Sacred Heart Women's Basketball team to a 74-65 win against Northeast Conference rival Quinnipiac Monday night on the road.  With the win over the Bobcats, the Pioneers improved to 2-0 in NEC play and 7-1 overall in their best to start to a season in program history.

While Taylor led the way offensively, Ericka Norman (Chino Hills, Calif.) led the defense with a career high 10 steals.  Taylor put the first points on the board with a three-pointer, but Gillian Abshire quickly put Quinnipiac on the board with a shot from outside the arc.

Junior Felicia Barron broke the tie, putting two more on the board for the Q on a fast break. Eighteen seconds later, Katie Shepard (Lone Tree, Colo.) landed a trey to give Sacred Heart a 6-5 lead.

The Bobcats then went on a mini run, picking up seven points before the Pioneers could knock down their third basket, a layup by Gabrielle Washington (Mesa, Ariz.). After the Bobcats matched their largest lead with an eight-point advantage on a Abshire jumper at 8:31, Norman's defense led the Pioneers to a run that would get them the lead back before the half.  Her back-to-back steals led to three consecutive layups—two by Alexis Campbell (Ashburn, Va.) for her first points of the season in her third game back from returning from an injury–-to chip away at the QU lead.

"It's a game of runs and spurts," said Head Coach Ed Swanson. "You just have to gain momentum."

Washington gave Sacred Heart the advantage a minute before halftime with a three, putting the Pioneers up 32-31 on her way to an 11-point night. Taylor would hit another field goal before the buzzer to make the score 34-31 heading into halftime.

Quinnipiac came out with a vengeance in the second half behind Barron's back-to-back layups in the first minute. The Bobcats quickly took back the lead, going up four points before Evans reignited the Pioneer offense with a layup just over three minutes into the half.   The teams traded field goals throughout much of the next eight minutes, until Blair Koniszewski (Vienna, VA) hit back-to-back threes to put SHU back on top for good, leading by six with 8:25 to go.

"Blair [Koniszewski] came up big with the three and I was really happy for her," said Swanson.

When Taylor went to the bench with a fourth foul with 7:36 left, the Pioneers' bench rallied with a 9-2 run behind great pressure defense and baskets by Washington, Enjoli Bland (Queen Creek, Ariz.), and Norman to open up a ten-point lead.  Sacred Heart put the game away on a deep three by Norman with shot clock nearly expired to give SHU a game-high 13-point lead with 1:43 remaining.

With the victory, Sacred Heart improved to 19-8 all-time over Quinnipiac in NEC play.  The Pioneers head to New Jersey Thursday to take on St. Peter's College at 7:00 p.m.