Smithfield, R.I. (February 27, 2013)—The Sacred Heart Women's Basketball team clinched the No. 2 seed in the Northeast Conference Tournament with the 58-50 win over the Bryant Bulldogs Wednesday evening. Morgan Merriman (Seattle, Wa.) led the Pioneers with 18 points shooting 50.0% (8-16) from the field.
The Pioneers shined in the first half, on both ends of the court. Sacred Heart forced Bryant into 19 turnovers in the first half alone, and shot 48.4% from the floor.
After a series of turnovers littered the first minutes of the game, Bryant's Breanna Rucker scored the first bucket of the game before Merriman put Sacred Heart on the board with a layup.
The teams continued to exchange points until Gabrielle Washington (Mesa, Ariz.) landed back-to-back baskets, giving SHU a four-point lead and forcing Bryant Head Coach Mary Burke to take a time out.
The Bulldogs retook the lead, 11-8, with three consecutive buckets for a seven-point run before Enjoli Bland (Queen Creek, Ariz.) snapped it with a layup and kicked off a 10-point run for Sacred Heart forcing Burke to use another timeout, and lifting SHU to a commanding lead.
Bryant chipped away at the end of the first half, but Katie Shepard (Lone Tree, Colo.) and Washington hit two late threes to send the Pioneers into halftime leading 35-23.
The Sacred Heart defense held Bryant to nearly a four-minute scoring drought before Naana Ankoma-Mensa drained a jumper with 11:30 to play, kicking off a 13-point Bulldog run to bring Bryant within one of the Pioneers.
Under seven minutes on the clock, Washington hit a three from the let wing improving SHU's lead 48-44.
The team exchanged points with Sacred Heart constantly fending off a determined Bulldog squad. With just over three minutes left in the game, Danielle Douglas hit a jumper narrowing the gap to just two points, but Shepard and Merriman combined for four expanding the lead just before the one-minute mark.
Sacred Heart closes the regular season this weekend against St. Francis Brooklyn Saturday and LIU Brooklyn Monday night.