FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Sacred Heart women's basketball team looks to turn the tide on Saturday when the Pioneers play host to Mount St. Mary's in the team's annual Pack to Pitt game. The game is set to tip at Noon and can be seen on ESPN3.
- With the NEC standings looking the way they are, Saturday's matchup shapes up to be a big one for both teams as the Pioneers are grouped with St. Francis Brooklyn and St. Francis U in a tie for second with a 6-3 league mark. Mount St. Mary's is tied with Bryant and Wagner for fifth at 4-5 in the NEC but a win for the Mountaineers would move them a mere one game back of the top four and homecourt in the NEC quarterfinal round
- SHU has dominated the all-time series 32-5, winning eight of the last nine and 20 of the last 22 meetings. The Pioneers last fell at home to the Mountaineers in the 2013-14 season as SHU has won five straight in the Pitt Center against Mount St. Mary's
- Candice Leatherwood led all scorers with 21 points (7-16 FG) to go along with five rebounds and three assists in Saturday's overtime loss to St. Francis Brooklyn. After being held to just 16 points over the previous two games combined, Leatherwood shined with her fifth 20-plus point game of the season and third since the start of NEC play
- Haines leads all NEC players with four Player of the Week awards in 2018-19 and is the first player all season to win the honor in back-to-back weeks. For her career, Haines has six NEC Player of the Week honors
- Despite the loss to the Terriers on Saturday, SHU's defense shined in holding the league's top scoring offense (74.5 PPG heading into the game) to just 56 points (46 in regulation) on 35.5 percent shooting. That marked just the second time SFBK was held to less than 60 points in NEC play while the 35.5 FG% marked a season-low in NEC-only games for the Terriers
LAST TIME OUT (SFBK 56, SHU 53 | OT)
- SHU erased a seven-point deficit with under eight minutes to play, capped by a Katherine Haines three-pointer to tie the score with 46 seconds left, to force an overtime period
- Playing an OT game for the first time since the 2016-17 season, SHU committed three costly turnovers in the extra session and saw Dominique Ward bury a clutch go-ahead layup that put the Terriers up for good with 22 seconds remaining
- The Pioneers had two chances to tie the game in the closing seconds as Candice Leatherwood couldn't get a contested layup to fall with her team trailing by two and later missed a stepback three that would've tied the game as the buzzer sounded
- Leatherwood stepped up in a big way with her game-high 21 points while playing a career-high 40 minutes of action
- Haines recorded 11 points and 11 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season as well as her fourth in nine NEC-only games in 2018-19
LOVING THAT HOME LIVING
Sacred Heart has taken advantage of games held in the Pitt Center this season, entering the weekend with a 3-1 mark at home in NEC play. The Pioneers saw their nine-game unbeaten home winning streak against conference foes come to an end last weekend in an overtime loss to St. Francis Brooklyn. During that unbeaten streak, SHU owned an average scoring margin of +11.0.
PROTECTING THE BALL
The Pioneers have valued protecting the ball and it shows in the stats as SHU leads the conference in fewest turnovers committed per game (13.8). For the season, the Pioneers are 7-4 in games in which SHU commits less than 15 turnovers and have committed fewer turnovers than their opponent in 13-of-20 games thus far in 2018-19.
KEYS TO VICTORY
A comparison between wins and losses show some clear trends in determining key factors to the W-L record of the Pioneers. Some key categories include the following:
|Stat||Wins (10)||Losses (10)|
IT'S A POINTS PARTY
Sacred Heart is the only team in the NEC with four players averaging double figures in scoring – Katherine Haines (15.9 PPG), Adrianne Hagood (11.9), Erin Storck (10.9) and Candice Leatherwood (10.8). For the Pioneers, if the season were to end today it'd mark the second straight season in which SHU had four players post double digit marks in points per game. The last time a team in the NEC, other than SHU, to have at least four players averaging double figures in scoring in a season came back in 2014-15 when Bryant had five players score 10+ PPG.
Team defense has told the story for the Pioneers in a majority of their victories this season as the Pioneers' loss at Saint Francis U (1/26) was the first time SHU allowed an opponent to score 80-plus points this season. The Pioneers are 4-2 this season when holding opponents to less than 60 points and have allowed less than 50 points three times this season. They also kept nationally-ranked Kentucky in-check throughout their meeting in late December as the Wildcats finished with just 71 (below their 75.5 PPG average).
THAT 70+ SHOW
A season removed from going 5-4 in games wherein the Pioneers scored 70+ points, SHU has gone 7-0 in similar games this season as team defense has keyed the turnaround. Cumulatively, in those seven contests the Pioneers are outscoring opponents by 107 (+15.3 per game) and have defeated three opponents by 22 points or more.
ANOTHER FEATHER IN THE CAP
After recording the program's first-ever triple-double in a road win at St. Francis Brooklyn (Jan. 19), Katherine Haines etched her name in the record books again and became the 20th player in program history and the 13th in Sacred Heart's Division I era (since 1999-2000) to score 1000 career points. Needing 16 points to join the 1000-point club, Haines finished with 19 on the afternoon, going 8-for-14 from the floor as she now stands with 1,0003 career points.
PLAYING HER WAY TO THE TOP
Katherine Haines earned her second consecutive NEC Player of the Week honor on January 22nd. The honor comes on the heels of Haines posting the first triple-double in program history and becoming the 20th player in program history to eclipse 1,000 career points. Haines' second straight Player of the Week honor makes her the first player in the NEC to earn back-to-back Player of the Week awards this season. This announcement gives Haines four NEC Player of the Week awards in 2018-19, giving her the most of any player in the conference with seven weeks of the regular season remaining. The next-closest is Jess Kovatch (SFU) and Sydney Holloway (BRY) with two each.
LEATHERWOOD LETHAL FROM THREE
Candice Leatherwood led the way for the Pioneers in a recent loss to St. Francis Brooklyn as she pumped in a game-high 21 points while going 7-for-16 from the floor. It was her fourth time scoring 20-plus points this season including the thirdtime since the start of NEC play. She also continues to distribute the ball well, dishing out three assists against just oneturnover as she owns a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in eight-of-nine NEC games thus far in 2018-19.
BUT FIRST…WE TAKE THE LEAD
The Pioneers were outscored in the first half 43-38 in Saturday's loss at Saint Francis U, marking the first time since starting conference play that the Pioneers trailed at halftime. Sacred Heart had outscored the opposition in the first half in each of their first six NEC games (SHU 162-128 combined score advantage) to start the league slate. For the season, the Pioneers are 9-2 in games Sacred Heart leads at halftime.
DOMINATING THE SEAHAWKS
- The 72-64 win over Wagner marked the 11th straight win for Sacred Heart over the Seahawks (last loss 79-70 at Wagner 1/13/14)
- The Pioneers upped their home winning streak against the Seahawks to 17 straight games
- The only defeat SHU suffered to Wagner at home came in a 74-44 loss to the Seahawks on Jan. 18, 2000 which was the Pioneers' first season at the Div. I level
SHINING SINCE THE START OF CONFERENCE PLAY
- Since the start of NEC play, Katherine Haines ranks fourth in conference-only games in scoring (18.3 PPG), third in rebounding (9.2), 13th in field goal percentage (48.1), ninth in free throw percentage (79.5) and second in blocked shots (2.8)
- Sophomore Adrianne Hagood has shined in NEC-only games as she sits 12th in the league in scoring (12.6 PPG) and fourth in minutes play (35.1 MPG)
- The Pioneers are the only team in the league that have four players ranked in the Top 20 in scoring in conference-only games
- Protecting the ball is also a huge key to the team success for SHU as the Pioneers rank second in conference-only action in assist/turnover ratio (+1.1, 127 assists : 118 turnovers)
HAINES TRIPLE-DOUBLE POWERS PIONEERS PAST SAINT FRANCIS BROOKLYN 68-66
- SHU earned its fifth Northeast Conference victory last Saturday as the Pioneers prevailed in the final seconds over St. Francis Brooklyn by a final score of 68-66.
- Katherine Haines led the Pioneers, tallying the program's first triple-double as she registered 25 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high 11 blocks. Haines' 11 blocks tied the program-record and set the program-record for most blocks in program-history in the Div. I era.
DISHING THE BALL TO DABNEY
- Olivia Dabney scored a career high 13 points in the 80-68 victory over Wagner. Dabney went 3-6 from the filed while going 3-4 from beyond the arc. She also went 4-4 from the free throw line.
- In the past nine games since the Pioneers opened up conference play, Dabney is averaging 5.6 points per game and has gone for double figures in three of those nine contests
- For the season, Dabney is shooting at a 40 percent clip (18-for-45 3FG) from behind the arc which leads the team and ranks sixth in the NEC. The mark has only improved since the start of conference play as Dabney ranks fourth among all NEC players shooting 42.3 percent (11-for-26 3FG) from three-point range in conference-only games
SCOUTING MOUNT ST. MARY'S
- The Mountaineers are gifted offensively, sitting second in the NEC with 69.6 points per game in league-only games and most of that damage comes from the three-point line as the team averages the second-most three-point field goals (8.7) per game
- The backcourt duo of Juliette Lawless (18.3 PPG) and Michaela Harrison (14.8 PPG) is the highest-scoring pair of guards in the league as the tandem combines for 33.1 PPG in NEC-only play
- Lawless is one of the league's top players as she puts up 18.2 PPG (3rd NEC) while shooting a league-best 52.0 percent (3rd NEC, 1st among guards) from the floor and 41.9 percent from three (4th NEC) while dishing out 3.5 APG (4th NEC) and swiping 1.9 SPG (4th NEC)
- Harrison, meanwhile, tied the program record with eight made three-pointers in the team's last game against St. Francis U
- Rebecca Lee is the team's top interior player as she comes in with 7.8 PPG and 8.3 RPG while shooting a league-leading 53.8 percent from the floor