FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Coming off their best performance of the season, the Sacred Heart women's basketball team concludes its three-game NEC homestand with a Monday night contest against Fairleigh Dickinson. The first meeting of the 2018-19 between the two conference foes is set to tip at 6:00 p.m. and can be seen for free on NEC Front Row.
- A convincing 35-point victory over Mount St. Mary's at home on Saturday earning the Pioneers a bit of breathing room when it comes to playoff positioning in the Northeast Conference standings. The Pioneers remain in a three-way tie for second with St. Francis Brooklyn and Saint Francis U but the cap between the deadlock and fifth place Wagner (5-5 NEC) is now three games in favor of SHU due to the Pioneers sweeping the season series with the Seahawks and owning the head-to-head tiebreaker. A top-four seed in the conference standings looms large due as that earns a home game in the quarterfinal round of the NEC Tournament.
- SHU has dominated the all-time series against the Knights, owning a mark of 29-5, but upon closer examination there has been a shift of-late as the Pioneers are just 4-5 in the last nine contests in the series including a mark of just 1-4 in Teaneck. However, the Pioneers are without a single blemish, coming in with a mark of 17-0 all-time against FDU in games played at home.
- Several season-highs came from Saturday's 76-41 domination of Mount St. Mary's, including many on the defensive end. SHU held MSM to just six points in the first quarter and 15 in the first half, both of which set a new season-best for fewest points scored by a SHU opponent in a quarter and half, respectively. In addition, SHU held longtime NEC member MSM to their lowest point total in an NEC game in the Mountaineers' program history.
- Coupled with the dominant defensive performance, SHU caught fire from three-point range as the Pioneers set a new season-high with 13 made triples finishing 13-for-26 from long range. The 13 made three-pointers is the most in a game for the Pioneers since hitting 16 in a win over St. Francis Brooklyn on March 5, 2017 (53 games ago).
LAST TIME OUT (SHU 76, MSM 41)
- SHU blitzed the Mountaineers behind a season-high 13 three-pointers while holding MSM to just 28.6 percent shooting on the way to the dominating 35-point home win
- The Pioneers snapped a season-long three-game losing streak in the process moved to 5-1 on the season at home against NEC opponents
- The outcome was largely decided in the first quarter as the Pioneers jumped out to a 24-6 advantage in the opening 10 minutes, matching their highest-scoring first quarter of the season while holding MSM to six points, a season-low for a SHU opponent in a quarter in 2018-19
- For the first time since Feb. 20, 2016, the Pioneers saw five players hit double figures while Olivia Dabney put in the best game of her career as the sophomore finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, seven steals, five assists and three blocks
ABOUT THE WIN OVER THE MOUNT
Several noteworthy statistics littered the box score from the Pioneers' 76-41 victory over Mount St. Mary's on Feb. 9th and among them included:
- All five Pioneer starters (Haines 19, Hagood 16, Leatherwood 12, Dabney 12, Storck 10) hit double figures, marking the first time since a 68-60 overtime win over FDU on Feb. 20, 2016 (56 games ago) that SHU saw five players score 10+ points in a single-game
- SHU set new season-bests in fewest points allowed in a quarter (6 in the first period) as well as the fewest points allowed in a half all season (prev. low 19 vs Bryant, Jan. 14th)
- The SHU defense completely locked down what was the second-highest scoring offense in NEC play, holding Mount St. Mary's to their lowest point total ever in an NEC game
- The 41 points scored for the Mountaineers marked the fewest points SHU has allowed to an opponent since a 61-39 victory over CCSU on Feb. 25, 2013 (181 games ago)
- The 35-point margin-of-victory is the largest win for the Pioneers in an NEC game since an 81-45 victory over FDU on Dec. 6, 2008 (188 games ago)
- Five different Pioneers hit a three-pointer, combining to go 13-for-26 (50 3G%) which marks a new season-high for SHU and the most made triples in a game since hitting 16 in a win over St. Francis Brooklyn on March 5, 2017 (53 games ago)
- Dabney's terrific all-around effort is one of the better individual outings in quite some time as her seven steals are the most for a Pioneer in a single-game since Ericka Norman had 10 in a game at Stony Brook on Jan. 4, 2012 (192 games ago)
HAVE A DAY DABNEY
The effort put forth by Olivia Dabney in the 76-41 home win over Mount St. Mary's cannot be understated as the sophomore went for 12 points, seven rebounds, seven steals, five assists and three steals in 38 minutes. She either matched or tied a career-high in seven different statistical categories including field goals made (four), field goal attempts (nine), three-point field goals made (three), three-point field goal attempts (six), assists (five), blocks (three) and steals (seven). She did all of this while earning a spot in the starting lineup for the first time since a home win over Bryant back on Jan. 14 (five games ago).
TRANSFORMING HER GAME
In terms of year-to-year improvement, Olivia Dabney has made considerable strides in terms of her offensive production. As a freshman, Dabney slashed 24.5/20.9/47.7 in terms of FG%/3FG%/FT% in her rookie season only to see her improve to 39.7/41.2/77.4 thus far in 2018-19. Dabney's three-point game was an area she highlighted to improve in the offseason and the work put in is paying off as she is currently fifth in the NEC shooting 41.2 percent from three (21-51 3FG) just one season removed from going 14-for-67 (20.9 percent) from long range.
LOVING THAT HOME LIVING
Sacred Heart has taken advantage of games held in the Pitt Center this season, entering the weekend with a 5-1 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. In the five SHU home victories in NEC play, the Pioneers own an average scoring margin of +14.2.
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 (13.9). 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 14-of-21 games thus far in 2018-19.
IT'S A POINTS PARTY
Sacred Heart is the only team in the NEC with four players averaging double figures in scoring – Katherine Haines (16.1 PPG), Adrianne Hagood (12.1), 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 5-2 this season when holding opponents to less than 60 points and have allowed less than 50 points four times.
THAT 70+ SHOW
A season removed from going 5-4 in games wherein the Pioneers scored 70+ points, SHU has gone 8-0 in similar games this season as team defense has keyed the turnaround. Cumulatively, in those eight contests the Pioneers are outscoring opponents by 142 (+17.8 per game) and have defeated four 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 LEADING THE WAY
Candice Leatherwood led the way for the Pioneers in a recent loss to St. Francis Brooklyn (2/2) 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 third time since the start of NEC play. She also continues to distribute the ball well, dishing out three assists against just one turnover as she owns a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in nine-of-10 NEC games thus far in 2018-19.
LETHAL FROM THREE
The three-point shot is starting to fall at an immense rate for Candice Leatherwood of late as she is 13-for-26 (50 percent) from distance over the last five games combined, averaging 13.8 PPG over that span. The three-ball is becoming an increasingly important part of her game as 39 of her 69 points scored (56.5 percent) over the five-game span have come from three-point field goals.
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 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 10-2 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 (18.4 PPG), sixth in rebounding (8.6), ninth in field goal percentage (49.6), ninth in free throw percentage (80.9) and second in blocked shots (2.7)
- Adrianne Hagood has shined in NEC-only games as she sits 11th in the league in scoring (13.0 PPG) and fifth in minutes play (34.9 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, 147 assists:134 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
SCOUTING FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON
- Sitting ninth in the NEC in scoring offense (57.8 PPG), FDU prides itself on the defensive end where the Knights sit a respectable third in scoring defense in the NEC (64.4 points allowed per game)
- As evidenced by their 10.6 assists per game (10th in the NEC), the Knights are largely an isolation team that prefers to feed the post
- FDU averages a mere 5.1 makes from three-point range per game (eighth in NEC) while the team's three-point percentage (26.5) ranks bottom of the league
- Only one player on the team averages double figures in scoring as Lauren Francillon comes in with a team-best 10.6 PPG to go along with 6.5 RPG (9th NEC) on 42.2 percent shooting (15th NEC)
- Natalie Zamora is a player to watch on the offensive and defensive end for FDU as she leads the team with 2.6 APG and leads the NEC in steals (2.4 SPG)
- Another big key to the game will be the three-point line as the Knights come in with the second-best three-point percentage defense (29.4) in the NEC which will be tested against the Pioneers who're coming off a season-high 13 three-point field goals in a home win over Mount St. Mary's on Saturday