Jan. 15, 2010
Sacred Heart Pioneers (12-4, 5-0 NEC) vs. Central Connecticut Blue Devils (5-10, 2-3 NEC)
Game #17 - Saturday, January 16, 2010 - 1:00 pm - New Britain, Conn. - Detrick Gymnasium (3,500)
Radio: www.SacredHeartPioneers.com Multimedia: Live Stats
The Storyline... Sacred Heart takes on in-state rival Central Connecticut State in the first of two-straight meetings with the Blue Devils Saturday afternoon in New Britain. The Pioneers will entertain CCSU in the return meeting next Thursday night. SHU travels to Central winners of four-straight and nine of their last 10 after a 76-64 win at Bryant Thursday night. The Pioneers got 19 points from junior Maggie Cosgrove who hit four-of-five from behind the arc. Cosgrove leads the Northeast Conference and the NCAA in three point shooting hitting 54.9% (45-82) on the year. SHU carries a 26-game winning streak against NEC opponents into Saturday’s match-up.
Series... The Pioneers lead the all-time series, 22-8. Sacred Heart is 19-2 against the Blue Devils during the Division I era including 16-straight victories. The last Central victory came in 2001, 55-42, at home. They posted their other win in SHU’s inaugural D-I season, 1999-2000, 61-45, also in the Detrick Gymnasium. SHU is 10-0 at home in the Pitt Center and 9-2 on the road at Detrick Gym. The two teams met for the first time during the 1979-80 season.
The Coaches... Ed Swanson (SHU ‘89) is in his 20th season as head coach at his alma mater. Swanson posts a 334-225 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 208-105 record since joining the Division I ranks in 1999-00. Swanson was inducted in to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 and is the program’s longest tenured coach and all-time leader in coaching wins (334). He has been named the NEC Coach of the Year three times and is the all-time leader in regular season NEC wins (143). Beryl Piper (CCSU ‘87) is in her third season on the bench at Central Connecticut State University and owns a 27-49 record. Before taking over at her alma mater, she spent 19 seasons as the head coach at New Britain High School where she guided the team to three state titles. Piper played both basketball and softball at CCSU and was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 1999.
Scouting the Blue Devils... The Central Connecticut State Blue Devils come in at 5-10 overall and 2-3 in NEC play. CCSU is coming off a 56-45 loss at home on Thursday to Quinnipiac. Preseason All-NEC forward Kerrianne Dugan leads the team averaging 11.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Junior Leanne Crockett is the team’s leading rebounder pulling down 8.6 rebounds per game while averaging 9.1 points per outing. The Blue Devils are one of the top rebounding teams in the NEC averaging 40.5 rebounds per game.
Last Meeting with CCSU... Sacred Heart broke open a four-point game in the second half with a game-changing 15-0 run to pull away for an 81-62 win over Central Connecticut State on February 23rd last season. The CCSU Blue Devils came out on fire to start the game for a 12-6 early lead and extended it to 17-11 with 13:08 on the clock. The Pioneers started to get hot behind the arc and pulled in front by seven thanks to a 20-7 run, 37-30, by the two minute mark and held a 39-33 lead at the break. With the Pioneers up eight at the 15:25 mark, center Kaitlin Sowinski was forced to the bench with her third foul. The Blue Devils were able to pull within four on consecutive lay-ups by Shontice Simmons and Justina Udenze at 14:34, 48-44, but that was as close as they could get as the ensuing Pioneer run put the game out of reach. Apo got the run started with a pair of free throws followed by her only three of the night at 12:55. The sophomore guard made it three straight buckets with a jumper followed by a three from Maggie Cosgrove to force a Central time-out. Sowinski made it a 15-0 run with a lay-in underneath before a Jhanay Harris three broke the run at 9:19. The Pioneers kept their foot on the gas and extend the rally to 22-8 to take a commanding 70-50 lead with just over five minutes left. Cosgrove put the stamp on the win burying her fourth three of the night to give the Pioneers their biggest lead, 73-55, with 3:35 left on the road to the win. The Pioneers shot 54.2% (32-59) from the field in the game but where lights out in the second half hitting 60.7% (17-28) and 71.4% (5-7) from behind the arc. SHU also held the edge inside with a 34-28 scoring edge in the paint. Apo led all scorers with 19 points coming on seven-of-12 shooting to go with four assists, three rebounds a steal and a block.
Last Time Out... Sacred Heart guard Maggie Cosgrove finished with 19 points, hitting five-of-six from behind the arc to lead the Pioneers to a 76-64 win at Bryant University Thursday night. The Pioneers used a balanced offensive attack shooting a season-high 51.8% (29-56) while passing out 21 assists to improve to 5-0 in the Northeast Conference with the win. After a slow start, the Pioneers opened up a 10-point lead, 21-11 by the midway point of the first half. SHU pushed their lead to 19 at the four minute mark, 36-17, thanks to a 13-4 run fueled by Cosgrove’s third three of the first half. The Bulldogs responded by ending the half on an 11-3 spurt to trail 39-28 at the break. Cosgrove finished with 11 points over the first 20 minutes of action. The Pioneers opened the second half with a furious 17-5 run with Alisa Apo scoring nine of her 13 points during the rally. Cosgrove’s fourth three put SHU up 57-33 five minutes in. Her fifth three gave the Pioneers their biggest lead of the night at 64-39 with 14:30 left. Cosgrove finished seven-of-12 from the field and matched her season-high with six assists against just one turnover. Apo dished out seven assists and had a pair of steals. Freshman Kiley Evans scored 14 points on six-of-nine shooting while senior Lindsey Gibson just missed her first career double double with 10 points and nine rebounds, both career best marks. The Bulldogs shot just 32.8% (20-61) but held the rebounding edge 38-34, coming up with 20 second chance points. Siamone Bennett finished with 16 points.
Pioneers NEC Streaking... The Pioneers have won 23-straight Northeast Conference regular season game heading into Saturday’s game at Central Connecticut State. SHU has won 26-straight against NEC opponents, including their three tournament victories last season. SHU ran through the NEC schedule undefeated last season, 18-0, matching the same marks of the 2003-04 Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash and 1993-94 Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers as the only schools to play a perfect 18-game league slate. All three teams went on to claim the NEC Championships during those seasons. Both the Red Flash and the Mount won 25-stragiht NEC regular season games. Saint Francis (PA) won 31-consecutive games against NEC teams, including tournament games, over the span of the 2002-03 through 2004-05 season. The Mount won 30-straight, including tournament victories, over the span of the 1992-93 through 1994-95 seasons. The Monmouth Hawks posted 34-straight regular season conference wins during the span of the 1986-87 through 1988-89 seasons, including back-to-back 16-0 runs in ‘86-’87 and ‘87-’88. The Hawks won 35-straight games against NEC teams, including tournament wins, seeing their streak end with a loss to Robert Morris in the 1988 NEC Championship game.