SMITHFIELD, R.I. (February 22, 2016)—The Sacred Heart women's basketball team clinched at least a share of the Northeast Conference regular season title Monday night with a dramatic 64-60 win over the Bryant Bulldogs in the Chace Wellness Center.
In one of the closest games of the season, the Pioneers and Bulldogs tied the score seven times and traded the lead on nine occasions, but it all came down to the final minute. With the score even at 55, Kelcey Castro (Fair Lawn, N.J.) snapped it for the final time getting the and-one call to put SHU up by three just inside the three-minute mark. The senior continued to expand SHU's lead once more from the free throw line, going 2-for-2 to make it a five-point game, 60-55.
The game was won at the charity stripe, as the Pioneers' last seven points came from the line. Overall, SHU tallied 19 points from the free throw line compared to Bryant's eight.
The Pioneers return to the William H. Pitt Center Saturday for the final home game of the season. SHU will tipoff against the Red Flash of Saint Francis U at 1:05 p.m. after celebrating its three seniors, Alissa Tarsi (Clinton, N.J.), Lerae Ettienne (Kensington, Md.) and Johanna Lopez (Silver Spring, Md.). The Senior Day ceremony will begin at 12:50 p.m.
- With the win, Sacred Heart clinches a share of the Northeast Conference regular season title for the fifth time since joining the league before the 1999-00 season
- Tarsi dished out a career-high five assists
- Hannah Kimmel (Harpursville, N.Y.) paced Sacred Heart with 22 points and seven rebounds, her 15th straight double-figure scoring performance, while Castro was right behind her with 17 points
In a game that saw the lead change nine times, Castro broke it for the final time. With the game knotted at 55 and the final minute ticking away, the senior got the and-one call under the basket. After converting the three-point play, Castro tacked on two more from the charity stripe, extending the Pioneers' lead to five points, 60-55, with just 39 second left in regulation.
- Bryant struck first with a layup from Ivory Bailey, but Shelby Hickey (Littleton, Colo.) answered with one of her own evening the score
- Kimmel picked off a Bryant bounce pass for a steal and drove to the hoop on the fast break to give SHU its first lead of the game 4-2, but Morgan Olander once again knotted the score at four
- With 6:37 on the clock, Castro drained a shot from the top of the key sparking a brief five-point streak as Adaysha Williams (LaCrosse, Wis.) added two from the charity stripe to put Sacred Heart up 9-4
- The Bulldogs came within one point, 9-8, but Kimmel fended them off with a triple. They did it once again a minute later as a Bailey three made it 12-11. This time, SHU couldn't stop the threat as Haley Connors put Bryant ahead 14-12 with the last field goal of the quarter
- After shooting their highest field goal percentage of the season at Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday, Bryant held Sacred Heart to just 28.6% (4-14) in the opening period
- The Bulldogs extended their lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter, starting the period with a 6-3 streak
- Kimmel attempted to stop halt Bryant getting the and-one call on a layup, but Connors and Olander combined for four more pushing the Bulldogs' lead to 24-18, and forcing SHU Head Coach Jessica Mannetti to call a timeout with 5:40 remaining
- The break didn't slow Bryant who stretched their run to nine points for their largest lead of the game 29-18, but coming off the bench for the Pioneers, Tykera Carter (Alexandria, Va.) seemed to have the magic to finally stop the Bulldogs' hot streak. The sophomore drove through the defenders for a basket sparking a 10-2 SHU run. Carter capped off the streak and the quarter with a pair of free throws that brought Sacred Heart within three points, 31-28, at halftime
- 12 first-half turnovers hurt the Pioneers as Bryant scored 13 points of SHU mistakes
- Bryant opened the second half with four straight points, but a free throw from Castro started back-and-forth scoring action between the two teams
- Just before the six-minute mark, Hickey and Tarsi combined for four straight bringing Bryant's lead back to four points, 39-35, but Breanna Rucker completed the three-point play to push back a threatening Pioneer offense
- Coming out of the 4:06 media timeout, Kimmel made it a one-point game, 42-41, draining a trey
- Williams landed the Pioneers' third consecutive three-pointer reclaiming the lead for the Pioneers, 44-42, with just over two minutes left in the third quarter, but Rucker found the basket to tie it up at 44 on the Bulldogs' next possession
- SHU fired back as Kimmel knocked down a jumper putting Sacred Heart back on top 46-44 before the period-ending buzzer
- The Pioneers shot 53.8% from the floor in the third, as they outscored the Bulldogs 18-13
- Bryant wasted no time in the fourth scoring the first three points in just over a minute to take back the lead 47-46
- SHU was held scoreless through the first three and a half minutes until Kimmel went 2-for-2 from the charity stripe sparking back-and-forth action as the teams traded baskets and the lead
- The score tied three times throughout the fourth quarter. With the game tied at 55, Castro got the big and-one call with just 59 seconds on the clock, tipping the scales in the Pioneers' favor by three points. The senior tacked on two more from the charity stripe further extending SHU's lead