Jan. 21, 2010
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (January 21, 2010) - The Sacred Heart Pioneers saw their streak of 27-straight Northeast Conference wins snapped Thursday night, falling to Central Connecticut State, 67-64, in the William H. Pitt Center. CCSU had four players in double figures led by Leanne Crockett who finished with 20 points hitting four-of-six from behind the arc. The loss dropped the Pioneers to 13-5 overall and 6-1 in the league and also ended a 16-game home winning streak against NEC opponents in the Pitt Center.
The Pioneers (13-5, 6-1 NEC) got 21 points and 10 rebounds from sophomore Callan Taylor (Overland Park, KS), her 10th double double on the year, but couldn't overcome a 37.5% (24-64) shooting night while allowing the Blue Devils to hit 44.1% (26-59), a season-high in NEC games. SHU also struggled at the free throw line, hitting just 58.8% (10-17).
Sacred Heart led for much of the first half but saw their lead erased in the closing minutes to trail at the half for the first time in a conference game since last season's trip to Robert Morris (Feb. 12, 2009), a span of 15 games. Back-to-back jumpers from Taylor and sophomore Alexis Campbell (Ashburn, VA) gave the Pioneers their biggest lead of the night at 17-10, just over eight minutes into the game.
A three by Central's (6-11, 3-4 NEC) Alexzandria Dowdy pulled her team within 19-18 at the 7:44 mark but SHU would follow with consecutive lay-ups by senior Lindsey Gibson (Mechanicville, NY) to push the lead to 23-18. The Pioneer lead held at five, 25-20, with 3:30 to go before the half but CCSU caught fire and closed the half with a 7-2 run to lead 28-27 and build momentum they would use in the second half.
The Blue Devils shot 53.6% (15-28) in the second half and would come up with plenty of big shots to thwart off a late Pioneer push en route to a win that snapped a 17-game losing streak in the series between the two schools. Seven of the game's 10 lead changes came over the final 20 minutes with Central Connecticut grabbing the lead for good with 5:27 to play.
The Pioneers were able to grab the lead back five times in the first seven and a half minutes of play, but could never pull in front by more than a basket. A Taylor jumper gave SHU a 41-40 lead at 12:25 but the Blue Devils quickly answered with a 7-0 spurt capped by a three-point play from Dowdy and a lay-in from Crockett for a 47-41 lead. With CCSU up 49-45, SHU got some quick offense in the form of a Taylor three and a three-point play by Alisa Apo (Freehold, NJ) and suddenly led 51-49 with 6:15 left.
Central answered right back and jumped up by four as Crockett and Emily Rose buried three's, 60-56, with 3:53 to play. SHU tried to claw their way back and after a pair of defensive stops, went to the free throw line on consecutive possessions but managed to hit just two of the four, falling short of tying the game at 60-60. The Pioneers got a third-straight stop on the defensive end, corralling a missed P.J. Wade jumper but Dowdy came up with the big play for the Blue Devils, stealing the ball from Apo and breaking away for a uncontested lay-up and a 62-58 lead with 1:36 left.
After a pair of Taylor free throw's pulled SHU back within two, Crockett hit her biggest shot of the night, burying a three from the right wing with a 46 seconds left to put her team up 65-60. SHU got a quick two on an Apo lay-up and stole the ensuing inbounds down 65-62. SHU again went for a quick two with 18 seconds left as Apo hit again and fouled on the inbounds to force CCSU to the line. Kerrianne Dugan buried both attempts to push the lead back to three. The Pioneers went to Taylor to try and tie it but her three missed the mark sealing the CCSU win.
Taylor's 21 points came on just eight-of-20 shooting and one-of-seven from three. Apo finished with 14 points, hitting five-of-18, and had five rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block. Junior Maggie Cosgrove (Andover, MA) finished with 11 points, three-of-four behind the arc, with three assists and three steals.
Crockett just missed a double double adding nine rebounds to her 20 points. Dowdy finished with 14 points with seven assists against just one turnover with three steals. Dugan finished with 11 points while Justina Udenze came off the bench for 10 points with nine rebounds.
Their last loss to an NEC team came to Monmouth in the opening round of the 2008 NEC Tournament to Monmouth, 75-70. Their last regular season loss in the NEC came in the 2007-08 season finale to Robert Morris, 66-52.
Sacred Heart will play host to Bryant University on Saturday afternoon; tip-off is scheduled for 1:00 pm.