FAIRFIELD, CONN. (December 29, 2013)—The Sacred Heart women's basketball team captured its first home win 76-75 over Maine Sunday afternoon in the William H. Pitt Center. Four Pioneers reached double-digit scoring, with Gabrielle Washington (Mesa, Ariz.) leading the team with 13 points. SHU shot a season-high 43.9% from the floor as it finishes the non-conference schedule 3-8.
Rookie Adaysha Williams (LaCrosse, Wis.) recorded a career-best seven assists in the Pioneers' first win since Nov. 23. Senior Enjoli Bland (Queen Creek, Ariz.) pulled down a season high 10 rebounds, while Johanna Lopez (Silver Spring, Md.) tallied a career-high eight points.
The Pioneers got on the board first with a layup from senior Ericka Norman (Chino Hills, Calif.), but Maine answered with a seven-point run leading into the first media timeout. Sacred Heart took its first lead as Katie Shepard (Lone Tree, Colo.) and Washington combined for a 10-2 SHU run, putting the Pioneers on top 12-9 with 12:41 left in the half.
The back-and-forth action continued as the Black Bears strung together an 11-point run, which featured six points from the free throw line to take a substantial 20-12 lead and forced Sacred Heart Head Coach Jessica Mannetti to call a timeout to rally the troops with over nine minutes left in the half.
With under two minutes in the half, Norman's defensive play converted two steals into seven-consecutive points for the senior lifting SHU to a 33-31 lead. The point guard provided the spark for the Pioneer offense as Shelby Hickey (Littleton, Colo.) and Lopez combined for five more points in the final 30 seconds before the buzzer to send Sacred Heart into halftime with a 38-33 lead.
Sacred Heart added a quick seven points to open the second half starting with a three-pointer from Hannah Kimmel (Harpursville, N.Y.), who posted a career-high 11 points, to take a 10-point lead on the Black Bears forcing Maine Head Coach Richard Barron to call a timeout.
The Black Bears worked hard closing the gap with a 10-point run bringing them within one point, 49-48, of catching the Pioneers, but Hickey put a halt the Maine's offensive surge landing a triple from the top of the arc to keep the Pioneers on top.
The game remained tight throughout the second half with the teams exchanging baskets, but the Pioneers maintained the lead. A nail-biter all the way to the end, with 3:30 left to play, Sigi Koizar tied the game at 71 with a layup, but just inside the two-minute mark, Sacred Heart converted a Maine shot-clock violation into two points as Washington landed a jumper to put SHU back on top.
With Sacred Heart up by just one point, Washington was sent to the line after a foul was called on Maine's Ashleigh Roberts The Pioneers' leading free throw shooter, landed both shots increasing SHU's lead to three points, 75-72, with 35 seconds on the clock.
Lerae Ettienne (Kensington, Md.) added one more free throw line in the final seconds making it a four-point game. Thankfully so as Lauren Bodine, who led the game with 24 points, landed a three at the buzzer.
The Pioneers open 2014 and Northeast Conference play on Jan. 4 when they host Saint Francis U in a rematch of last year's NEC semi-final at 2:00 p.m. The game will air on ESPN3.