HACKENSACK, N.J. – After getting back in the win column, thanks to a 27-point drubbing of CCSU on Saturday, the Sacred Heart women's basketball team completes their season-long four-game road swing on Monday night with a showdown at Fairleigh Dickinson. Tip-off is set for 7 PM in a game that can be seen on ESPN+.
The Pioneers are looking for the season series sweep over the Knights for the first time since 2015-16. The two sides met once already this season back on February 11 when the Pioneers toppled FDU by a score of 68-62. Four Pioneers notched double digit point totals, led by 19 from Candice Leatherwood while Katherine Haines posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
- SHU enters Monday night's game at FDU in sole possession of second place in the NEC standings as the Pioneers' win over CCSU, coupled with LIU Brooklyn's upset win at Saint Francis U on Saturday, vaulted the Pioneers out of a tie and into sole possession of second place with a 10-4 record in league play. With home games looming against Robert Morris (13-1 NEC) and Saint Francis U (9-5 NEC), much is still to be determined in terms of playoff positioning in March.
- Katherine Haines dominated the Blue Devils on Saturday, finishing with 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting and 2-of-2 from three while adding 12 rebounds, two blocks and two assists in just 28 minutes to lead the Pioneers to the 73-46 victory. Haines has dominated all throughout the NEC slate this season, ranking third in the conference in scoring (18.6 PPG), second in rebounding (9.4 RPG), second in blocked shots (2.2 BPG), sixth in three-point percentage (43.8 3FG%) and sixth in field goal percentage (51.8 FG%) in NEC-only games.
- The 70-point mark has been the key number all season long for the Pioneers. A season removed from going 5-4 in games wherein the Pioneers scored 70+ points, SHU is 9-0 in similar games this season as team defense has keyed the turnaround. Cumulatively, in those nine contests the Pioneers are outscoring opponents by 169 (+18.8 per game) and have defeated five opponents by 22 points or more.
- Protecting the ball has been another huge key to the Pioneers' success this season, as SHU easily leads the NEC in fewest turnovers per game (13.8), ranking 56th in the nation in that category. The next-closest team in the conference is Fairleigh Dickinson at 16.2 turnovers per game (196th in the nation). In a recent loss at LIU Brooklyn (2/18), the Pioneers committed just six turnovers which represented the fewest turnovers for SHU in a single-game since committing five against CCSU back on March 6, 2010 (275 games ago).
LAST TIME OUT (SHU 73, CCSU 46)
- After trailing 5-3 early in the first quarter, the Pioneers went on a 9-0 run and never look back as SHU led the rest of the game to claim the 27-point victory
- Katherine Haines posted a game-high 24 points to go along with 12 rebounds and two blocks for her 11th double-double of the season (2nd-most in the NEC)
- Four players hit double figures for the Pioneers, marking the fourth time in NEC play that SHU has seen four players net at least 10 points in a game
- The 27-point margin-of-victory is the second-largest victory for the Pioneers this season, sitting behind only a 35-point home win over Mount St. Mary's on Feb. 9. It is also the largest victory for SHU in an NEC road game since toppling Mount St. Mary's 82-52 on Jan. 6, 2018.
PROTECTING THE BALL
The Pioneers dished the ball well all afternoon long at LIU Brooklyn (2/18), recording 18 assists (tied for the second-most assists in a single-game this season) while committing a season-low six turnovers. Despite the loss to the Blackbirds, the six-turnover total for SHU represents the fewest turnovers for the Pioneers in a single-game since committing five in a loss to CCSU back on March 6, 2010 (275 games ago).
HAINES HANDLING THE NEC
Katherine Haines has made easy work of the NEC this season, currently averaging 18.6 PPG (51.8 FG%, 43.8 3FG%, 78.3 FT%), 9.4 RPG and 2.2 BPG in 32.1 MPG through 14 conference games this season. Haines is currently third in the NEC in points per game, second in rebounding, sixth in field goal percentage, eighth in free throw percentage, sixth in three-point field goal percentage, second in blocked shots and 15th in minutes played. Haines has recorded seven of her eight 20-plus scoring games in NEC play while she has recorded a double-double in over 50 percent of NEC games (8-of-14) this season. She most-recently went for 24 points (9-14 FG, 2-2 3FG) and 12 rebounds in 28 minutes at CCSU on Saturday.
Playing with a very limited bench unit due to injuries, Allyson Murphy stepped into a leading role in a 67-57 road win at Bryant (2/16), finishing with a game and career-high 15 points (6-10 FG). The performance was quite unexpected as the junior hit double figures in scoring for just the third time this season and fourth time in her career (65 career games). To make the feat even more impressive, Murphy hadn't scored more than five points in each of the previous 13 games and had scored.13 points combined over the previous six contests.
FLYING HIGH IN THE SECOND
Undoubtedly the key factor in the Pioneers' 67-57 road win at Bryant (2/16) came via a 30-point second quarter that saw SHU go 11-for-16 (68.8 percent) from the floor and 3-of-6 from three-point range. Several noteworthy marks from the Pioneers' 10-point road win:
- The 30-point second quarter marks the second-highest scoring period in program history, just one shy off a 31-point fourth quarter from a 69-59 home win over Robert Morris on Dec. 29, 2016 (NCAA moved to quarters at the start of the 2015-16 season)
- SHU set a new season-high for points scored in a half, netting 45 in the first half against the Bulldogs, which marks the highest-scoring half since going for 48 in a home win over St. Francis Brooklyn on March 5, 2017
- The 45-point first half is the most points scored for SHU in a half in a road game since scoring 55 back on Jan. 17, 2015 in a 101-90 win at St. Francis U
- The Pioneers turned up the defense in the third quarter, allowing the Bulldogs to score just six points, good enough for the second-fewest points the Pioneers have ever allowed in a quarter. The fewest points allowed in a frame is a four-point first quarter for Wagner back on Feb. 10, 2018
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 blocks 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 42.2/43.4/75.8 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 second in the NEC shooting 43.4 percent from three (23-53 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 6-1 mark at home in NEC play. The Pioneers saw their nine-game unbeaten home winning streak against conference foes come to an end in an overtime loss to St. Francis Brooklyn on Feb. 2. In the six SHU home victories in NEC play, the Pioneers own an average scoring margin of +12.8.
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 8-5 in games in which SHU commits less than 15 turnovers and have committed fewer turnovers than their opponent in 17-of-25 games (68 percent) thus far in 2018-19. SHU set a new season-low with just six turnovers at LIU Brooklyn (2/18), which marks the fewest turnovers for the Pioneers in a single-game since committing five against CCSU back on March 6, 2010 (275 games ago).
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 (14) Losses (11)
PPG 70.1 55.0
FG% 44.1 32.2
3FG% 37.7 27.0
RPG 35.8 28.9
APG 15.0 9.2
IT'S A POINTS PARTY
Sacred Heart is the only team in the NEC with four players averaging double figures in scoring – Katherine Haines (16.7 PPG), Adrianne Hagood (11.8), Candice Leatherwood (11.1) and Erin Storck (10.3). 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 7-2 this season when holding opponents to less than 60 points and have allowed less than 50 points five times.
THAT 70+ SHOW
A season removed from going 5-4 in games wherein the Pioneers scored 70+ points, SHU has gone 9-0 in similar games this season as team defense has keyed the turnaround. Cumulatively, in those nine contests the Pioneers are outscoring opponents by 169 (+18.1 per game) and have defeated five 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 1,141 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.
LEATHERWOOD LEADING THE WAY
Candice Leatherwood led the way for the Pioneers in a recent win over Fairleigh Dickinson (2/11) as she pumped in a game-high 19 points while going 7-for-13 from the floor. Leatherwood has scored 20-plus points four times this season including three through 14 NEC games. She also continues to distribute the ball well, dishing out seven assists against just one turnover against the Knights, as she owns a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in 12-of-14 NEC games thus far in 2018-19.
BUT FIRST…WE TAKE THE LEAD
Owning a halftime advantage has been a huge key to the Pioneers' success all season long, as the Pioneers are 13-2 in games SHU leads at halftime. Since the start of NEC play, the Pioneers are outscoring the opposition by a combined score of 468-384 (+84, +6.0 scoring margin per game) in the first halves of games and have led at the half in 11-of-14 conference games. In those 14 NEC games, the Pioneers' largest scoring margin by-quarter is in the first period as SHU has outscored its opponents 241-184 (+57). By comparison, the next-largest scoring margin is the second quarter, wherein SHU owns a 227-200 (+27) advantage.
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
HAINES TRIPLE-DOUBLE POWERS PIONEERS PAST SAINT FRANCIS BROOKLYN 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
- Sitting ninth in the NEC in scoring offense (57.5 PPG), FDU prides itself on the defensive end where the Knights sit a respectable third in scoring defense in the NEC (65.4 points allowed per game)
- As evidenced by their 10.8 assists per game (10th in the NEC), the Knights are largely an isolation team that prefers to feed the post
- FDU averages a mere 5.3 makes from three-point range per game (ninth in NEC) while the team's three-point percentage (27.4) ranks bottom of the league
- The Knights don't have a player averaging double figures in scoring as Lauren Francillon leads the way with 9.9 PPG (15th NEC) to go along with 6.1 RPG (T11th NEC)
- Natalie Zamora is a player to watch on the offensive and defensive end for FDU as she leads the team with 2.4 APG and ranks second in the NEC in steals (2.2 SPG)
- Another big key to the game will be the three-point line as the Knights come in with the third-best three-point percentage defense (30.4) in the NEC which will be tested against the Pioneers who've hit at least eight three-pointers in four of the last five games