Pioneers Play Host to St. Francis (NY) Terriers
Feb. 12, 2010
Sacred Heart Pioneers (18-6, 11-2 NEC) vs. St. Francis (NY) Terriers (1-23, 0-13 NEC)
Game #25 - Saturday, February 13, 2010 - 1:00 pm - Fairfield, Conn. - William H. Pitt Center (2,100)
Radio: www.SacredHeartPioneers.com Multimedia: Live Video, Gametracker
The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers take on St. Francis (NY) looking to bounce back from a 66-56 loss to Long Island Thursday night. The Pioneers are 8-4 at home this season, falling twice in Northeast Conference action. Since starting play in the William H. Pitt Center in 1997, SHU has had two seasons where they lost five times at home, in 2004-05 (11-5) and 2000-01 (7-5). Sacred Heart sits in sole possession of second place at 11-2, a game behind Robert Morris (12-1) for first place. Junior Alisa Apo scored 20 points in the loss to LIU, her sixth 20-point game this season. The St. Francis-NY Terriers are currently in the midst of a 16-game losing streak and are winless in the Northeast Conference at 0-13.
Series... The Pioneers lead the all-time series, 18-8 dating back to the 1974-75 season, Sacred Heart's first year of competition. The Pioneers have never lost to St. Francis-NY as a member of the Northeast Conference (17-0), running their streak to 17-straight in the series. Sacred Heart took the first ever meeting, 62-50, recording the programs first-ever win on February 4, 1975. St. Francis won the next eight-straight games before the two teams would meet again as members of the NEC.
SHU in the Northeast Conference... Sacred Heart is in its 11th season of play in the Northeast Conference and has posted a 149-44 conference record over that span. The Pioneers are coming off their second NEC Championship along with a 21-0 run through the league last season. SHU won their first championship during the 2005-06 season, running off a 26-5 record and 16-2 NEC mark. SHU has never finished lower then tied for third in the final league standings. Head Coach Swanson is the leader in all-time NEC wins at 149 victories.
The Coaches... Ed Swanson (SHU `89) is in his 20th season as head coach at his alma mater. Swanson posts a 340-227 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 214-108 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 (340). He has been named the NEC Coach of the Year three times and is the all-time leader in regular season NEC wins (149). Brenda Milano (Wagner `95) is in her seventh season at the helm of the St. Francis (NY) women's basketball program. Milano has a 51-144 record in her seven seasons at the St. Francis (NY) and overall.
Scouting the Terriers... St. Francis (NY) are 1-23 on the year and winless in the Northeast Conference at 0-13. The Terriers are looking to avoid being just the fifth team in league history to finish winless in league play (2000-01 Robert Morris; 1992-93 St. Francis-NY; 1991-92 St. Francis-NY; 1986-87 Long Island). St. Francis's lone win on the year came against Colgate, 59-54. Freshman Autumn Lau is the NEC's top-rookie scorer averaging 13.0 points per game. She is tied with SHU's Maggie Cosgrove with a league leading 63 three-point field goals on the year. SFNY is last in the NEC in scoring offense (48.2) and scoring defense (68.0).
Last Meeting with SFNY... Sacred Heart held off the St. Francis (NY) Terriers, 61-50, in last year's season finale to become just the third team in Northeast Conference history to finish the regular season 18-0. The Pioneers needed to overcome a poor shooting effort, hitting a season-low 18-of-62 (.290) on the night. The Pioneers and Terriers each struggled in the first half with a combined 19 turnovers. SHU started slow going 0-for-nine from the field before an Alisa Apo three ended the drought at 16:01. The Pioneers continued to struggle for the remainder of the first half as St. Francis's Kara Ayers helped keep her team in it with 12 points. Ayers buried a three and hit a pair of free throws to pull her team within 21-18 at 6:09 and two more free throws at 4:20 put the Terriers within 25-20. Sacred Heart center Kaitlin Sowinski did a good job of getting to the free throw line in the first half, hitting eight-of-10, but a fast-break lay-in at 1:57 ended a 0-for-nine shooting drought for the senior in the half. The Terriers pulled within two, 29-27, right out of halftime thanks to an Ayers three. SHU responded and after building their lead to eight, 41-33, at the 11:55 mark looked ready to pull away. St. Francis had other plans and their senior Ayers delivered a dribble-drive lay-in and her fourth three of the night to pull within 45-42 with 10:03 left. Sacred Heart would not let the Terriers get any closer and opened their first double digit lead at 4:14 thanks to a 10-2 run. Sacred Heart went took a 55-44 advantage and SFNY could get no closer than eight the rest of the way as the Pioneers escaped with a 60-51 victory. SHU went to the free throw line 30 times in the win, making 20. The Pioneers did take advantage of 15 St. Francis miscues with 21 points at the other end.
Last Time Out... Long Island's Chelsi Johnson posted a double double with 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Blackbirds to a 66-56 Northeast Conference win over Sacred Heart Thursday night. LIU outscored the Pioneers 42-30 in the paint and shot 51.9% (27-52) from the field to deal SHU their second conference loss of the season. Sacred Heart junior Alisa Apo finished with 20 points hitting nine-of-13 from the field, her sixth 20-point game on the year. The Pioneers led 9-7 at the 16:26 mark after a pair of fast break buckets but that would prove to be Sacred Heart's last lead of the night. Long Island opened a double digit lead thanks to a 12-5 run over a five and a half minute stretch. Ashley Palmer converted on a pair of lay-ups and Krystal Wells hit on a three point play at 10:06 to give LIU a 25-14 lead. SHU chipped the lead down to seven, 27-20, at the 7:20 mark but the Blackbirds closed the half strong, running their lead back to double digits, 35-23. The Blackbird lead hit its high-water mark at 16, 50-34, just under six minutes in to the second half thanks to an opening 15-8 rally. SHU sophomore Callan Taylor started a 9-2 run with a jumper followed by an Apo runner in the lane. Junior Maggie Cosgrove buried a three and Taylor followed with a pair of free throws to trail 56-47. Back-to-back jumpers by SHU freshman Kiley Evans cut the lead to 59-51 with 7:17 on the clock. Johnson put a stop to any SHU comeback draining a three on the next Blackbird possession and finished her team's scoring at 4:11 with a fast break lay-up and a 66-54 lead. The Pioneers shot 43.4% (23-53) from the field but just 21.1% (4-19) from behind the arc. SHU did force 24 turnovers and turned those into 26 points but had 20 miscues of their own. Both Taylor and Evans had 12 points each in the loss. The Pioneers have lost two NEC home games for the first time since the 2006-07 season. LIU got 15 points and eight rebounds off the bench from Palmer.