Feb. 19, 2010
Sacred Heart Pioneers (18-8, 11-4 NEC) vs. Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash (11-14, 8-7 NEC)
Game #27 - Saturday, February 20, 2010 - 12:00 pm - Loretto, Pa. - Maurice Stokes Athletic Center (3,500)
Radio: www.SacredHeartPioneers.com Multimedia: Live Stats
TV: MSG Network, Fox College Sports, FSN-Pittsburgh
The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers finish off their Western Pennsylvania road trip Saturday afternoon facing the Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash in a re-match of the 2009 Northeast Conference title game live on the Madison Square Garden Network. The Pioneers have lost three-straight coming in after a 71-43 loss at Robert Morris on Thursday and are looking to avoid the program’s first-ever four-game Northeast Conference slide. SHU sits tied for second place with Long Island, both 11-4. The Pioneers had their worst offense outing of the season against the first place Colonials, scoring just 43 points while shooting 22.1%, both season low marks. The Red Flash are still in the hunt for a NEC playoff berth at 8-7 and in sixth place.
Series... Sacred Heart leads the all-time series, 10-7. The Pioneers have won four-straight and eight of the last nine against the Red Flash since snapping a five-game losing streak in the series in 2005-06. SHU swept the season series last year including a 74-66 in the NEC Championship game, the two team’s first-ever meeting in the post season. The Red Flash are responsible for the Pioneers worst NEC defeat since joining the conference, a 32 point loss, 87-55, during the 2003-04 season in Loretto. The Pioneers are 3-5 all-time in Loretto and 7-2 in the Pitt Center against Saint Francis.
SHU in the Northeast Conference... Sacred Heart is in its 11th season of play in the Northeast Conference and has posted a 149-46 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 340-229 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 214-110 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). Susan Robinson Fruchtl (Penn State ‘92) is sixth coach in Saint Francis (PA) history and is in her third season on the bench owning a 31-54 record. Prior to SFPA, she spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach at Penn State University.
Scouting the Red Flash... The Saint Francis Red Flash come in having won two-straight, beating Central Connecticut, 64-54, and Quinnipiac, 78-54, last time out. The Red Flash will close the regular season with trips to Mount and Wagner next week. Saint Francis is the highest scoring team in the NEC at 68.0 points per game rank ninth allowing 66.5 points a night. The Red Flash are right behind the Pioneers shooting the three making 37.4% as a team. Senior guard Brittany Hodges is second in the league in scoring at 16.7 points per game while junior guard Samantha Leach ranks 10th at 13.2 points per. Hodges also takes care of the basketball with 109 assists against 65 turnovers, second in the NEC in assist/turnover ratio.
Last Meeting with Saint Francis (PA)... The Sacred Heart Pioneers completed a perfect run through the Northeast Conference claiming their second league championship and trip to the NCAA Tournament with a 74-66 win over Saint Francis (PA) in last season’s NEC Championship game. The Pioneers were led by Tournament MVP Kaitlin Sowinski’s 20 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks against the Red Flash to claim their second title in four years. SHU burst out to an 8-2 lead in the game’s opening minutes and extended it to double digits seven minutes in as an Alisa Apo three capped was 16-6 game opening run. Sacred Heart’s lead hit 27-14 at the seven minute mark before the Red Flash began to chip away and cut the Pioneer’s lead to just four at the break, 33-29. Saint Francis (PA) stayed within three points in the opening minutes of the second half but couldn’t close the game any further. The Pioneers used a 12-4 run to produce their biggest lead of the game at 63-49 with just under seven minutes to go as senior Khalia Cain buried a three on the rally and Sowinski finished it off with a lay-in underneath. The Red Flash had one last run in them as they cut it down to five with 2:43 left and were forced to foul down the stretch. The Pioneers refused to falter and hit nine-of-10 in the closing minutes to seal the win. Apo went to the line six times and hit all six on her way to a 10-of-10 at the charity stripe to finish with a game-high 21 points. The Pioneers shot 42.1% (24-57) and held the Red Flash to just 32.9% (23-70) from the field and 11.1% (2-18) from behind the arc.
Last Time Out... The Sacred Heart Pioneers shot a season-low 22.1% (15-68) and had their lowest offensive output of the season in suffering a 71-43 loss to first place Robert Morris Thursday. The Pioneers turned it over 23 times on their way to their first three-game skid this season. Sophomore Callan Taylor led the Pioneers with 11 points and eight rebounds while junior Alisa Apo finished with 10 points and seven boards. Sacred Heart led just once on Thursday night, 2-0, on an Apo jumper on their opening possession. Robert Morris took control from there and jumped out in front 13-4 by the 15 minute mark. SHU’s Maggie Cosgrove buried a three to cut it to 13-7, and in the process tied the school-record for three’s in a season. The Colonials responded and ran their lead to 14, 24-10, before Cosgrove would answer with her second three of the night claiming the record for herself. Cosgrove’s second triple came at the 6:32 mark and got the Pioneers started on a 9-2 spurt the rest of the half to trail by just six at the break. Apo capped it off with a three with 18 seconds left to send SHU to the locker room down 28-22. The second half was all Robert Morris as the Colonials quickly took an eight-point lead and ran off a 12-2 run for a 38-24 advantage with 17:28 on the clock. SHU was able to cut within 10, 38-28 after a pair of Taylor free throws and an Apo jumper but that was as close as the Pioneers would come the rest of the night. The Colonials ripped off a 22-7 run that took their lead to 60-35 with just under nine to play, putting the game away. Sacred Heart made just eight-of-36 from the field in the second half, turning it over 13 of their 23 times in the second stanza. On the night, the Colonials held a 46-16 advantage in the paint. Four Colonials found double digits led by senior Angela Pace who finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.
SHU Looking To End Slide... After clinching an NEC Tournament berth with their win at Wagner, the Pioneers are 2-3 in their last five games and have lost three-straight heading into Saturday’s game at Saint Francis (PA). SHU last loss three-straight in NEC play during the 2003-04 season when they lost to Saint Francis (PA), Robert Morris and Long Island, all on the road. The Pioneers have had only one other three-game conference slide, during the 1999-00 season when they fell to Wagner at home and Mount St. Mary’s and UMBC on the road. Sacred Heart has never lost four-straight Northeast Conference games in their 11-year history in the league.
Cosgrove Claims Another SHU 3-pt Record... Junior guard Maggie Cosgrove set her second three-point shooting record this season in Thursday’s loss at Robert Morris. Cosgrove set the new school mark for three’s in a season as her two makes against the Colonials gave her 70 for the year. She breaks the mark of 69 that she tied last season with former Pioneer Lisa Moray. Moray’s 69 threes came during the 2006-07 season. Just 84 games into her Sacred Heart career, Cosgrove set the new school record for career three-point field goals earlier this season. Cosgrove buried four-of-five from behind the arc at Wagner to pass Ashley Kohl on the SHU all-time list. Kohl’s set the previous mark of 173 from 2000 through 2004. Cosgrove is at 187 career three’s and counting Her career three-point percentage of 42.6% is currently tops all-time at Sacred Heart.
Home Struggles... The Pioneers are 8-5 at home this season, matching the five losses at home during the 2004-05 (11-5) and 2000-01 (7-5) seasons, the most since starting play in the William H. Pitt Center in 1997. SHU has one game left on the home slate, February 25th against Fairleigh Dickinson. For the first time in program history, SHU dropped two-straight NEC games at home, falling to LIU and St. Francis (NY) last week.