Nov. 16, 2009
FAIRFIELD, CT (November 16, 2009) - The Sacred Heart women's basketball team turned in tough defensive effort holding Villanova to 34.6% (18-52) shooting but 19 Pioneer turnovers, two in the final minute, helped the Wildcats escape with a 50-49 win Monday night in the William H. Pitt Center. The loss snaps a 12-game home winning streak and drops the Pioneers to 0-2 on the young season. Sophomore Callan Taylor (Overland Park, KS) recorded her first double double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
"Going in to this game, I thought we needed a better effort on the defensive side and we got it tonight," commented head coach Ed Swanson. "The game came down to a few plays tonight and we need to work harder on some of those end of the game situations. We had a few possessions down the stretch where we came up empty. Overall, a great team effort on defense. We emphasized good individual defense and good team defense in practice and I thought it showed tonight. We just didn't make enough plays in the end to get it done."
A strong shooting effort in the first half, 55.0% (11-20) left the Pioneers up just one at the break, 26-25, thanks in part to 11 turnovers over the first 20 minutes. The Wildcats had the early hot hand, hitting three-of-four from behind the arc in the game's opening minutes. A Meaghan Pearson put-back gave Villanova a five-point advantage, 14-9, with 11:35 on the clock, their biggest lead in the first half.
Taylor buried a three followed by a lay-up underneath and junior Alisa Apo (Freehold, NJ) knotted the game at 16-16 with a runner in the lane at 8:32. The rest of the first half saw four lead changes with neither team able to pull in front by more than three points. An Amanda Swiezynski three, their fifth of the half, put Villanova up 23-20 but consecutive buckets by Taylor and a foul line jumper by freshman Kiley Evans (Cazenovia, NY) gave the Pioneers a three-point lead of their own, 26-23 with 1:24 left. Laura Sweeny closed out the closely contested first half with a lay-up to cut the deficit to one at the break.
Despite their hot shooting in the first half, SHU struggled to find their offense at times in the second half, making just seven-of-21, but battled back to erase a five-point deficit with just over four minutes to go. The Pioneers came out blazing, running their lead to 33-28 in the opening 1:20, started by a three from junior Maggie Cosgrove (Andover, MA).
Villanova behind Sweeney answered right back with an 11-0 spurt, giving the Wildcats their biggest lead of the night, 41-35. Sweeney, who finished with 11 points, hit a pair of lay-ups sandwiched around a three from Megan Pearson to force a SHU timeout at 16:05. Tia Grant finished off the run with a pair of free throws for the six point advantage with 14:16 on the clock.
The Pioneers had a run of their own left as Apo hit for six of her 12 points on a quick 8-0 spurt to take back the lead. A jumper in the lane at 10:16 got the rally started and after a pair of free throws, she found senior teammate Lindsey Gibson (Mechanicville, NY) for an easy lay-in to tie it at 41-41 with 7:19 left. The junior co-captain came up with a steal on the ensuing inbounds and finished with a lay-up of her own to put SHU in front by a pair, forcing a Villanova timeout.
Grant answered back with the first of three-straight Wildcat three's to jump back in front down the stretch. Maria Getty hit from downtown at 6:12 and following a SHU miss, the Wildcats chased down a pair of offensive rebounds before Pearson buried a three of her own for a 50-45 lead with 4:15 left, Villanova's last points of the night.
SHU cut the lead down to one in the closing minutes thanks to a pair of free throws each from Apo and Evans. Taylor pulled down her ninth rebound of the game off a Wildcat miss with 43 seconds left, but SHU's attempt to jump in front was lost as Apo turned the ball over losing her dribble with 27 ticks left. Forced to foul, SHU sent center Heather Scanlon to the free throw line with 12 seconds left. Scanlon cooperated missing the front end as Taylor corralled her 10th board of the night. Again the Pioneers came up short on their bid for the lead, as Apo was stripped on the way to the hoop by Pearson, who grabbed the loose ball to seal the win as time ran out.
Villanova took advantage of the 19 Pioneer miscues to the tune of 21 points at the other end. The Wildcats hoisted up 31 three's on the night, making 10 (32.3%). In addition to Sweeney's 11 points off the bench, Grant netted 10 in the win.
SHU's Gibson finished with a career-high nine points with six rebounds and two blocks. Apo's 12 points came on just three-of-13 shooting. While she did dish out six assists she posted a career-high nine turnovers in the loss.
The Pioneers are back in action this Saturday, November 21st as they play host to the Harvard Crimson at 2:00 pm in the William H. Pitt Center.