FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Leading by just five at the halftime break, the Sacred Heart women's basketball completely dominated the second half of play, outscoring the Pride 42-20 in the final 20 minutes of play to come away with a convincing 71-44 win over Hofstra on Sunday afternoon from the Pitt Center. The Pioneers up their win streak in home openers to three straight while improving to 1-1 overall while Hofstra falls to 1-1 on the season.
After shooting 35.7 percent in the first half, the Pioneers shot the lights out in the second half as SHU went 13-for-22 (59.1 percent) from the floor and 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) from three on their way to a 42-20 domination of the Pride.
Nikki Johnson led the way in the second half, scoring 12 of her game-high 19 points in the third and fourth quarter combined. In her first two appearances as a Pioneer, the Western Carolina transfer Johnson has starred in both games to start the season as she went for 19 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals in 32 minutes today. This came on the heels of her career-high 25-point outburst at Seton Hall on Wednesday where she also finished with a career-high five steals as well as five rebounds and four assists. Through two games, Johnson is averaging 22 points per game on 48.3 percent shooting from the field, 42.9 percent from three and 90.9 percent at the free throw line to go along with 5.5 RPG, 3.5 APG and 4.0 SPG.
Depth came in waves for the Pioneers as four hit double figures in scoring on the day. Johnson's 19 points led the way while Jessica Woods (15 points, six rebounds, three steals, two blocks), Olivia Dabney (13 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals) and Adrianne Hagood (13 points) all hit double digits in the point column.
The 27-point victory for SHU is the biggest win for the Pioneers in a home opener since defeating Bridgeport 84-41 on Nov. 18, 2014 as well as the largest against a Div. I opponent since toppling Saint Peter's 79-34 on Nov. 20, 2012.
1st Quarter (17-7 SHU)
- SHU was up early in this one as a quick 6-0 burst had the Pioneers ahead after just 1:42 of action with Woods converting a three-point play before Dabney splashed in a triple at the wing
- The margin remained at six in favor of SHU until the closing minute of the frame as Hagood hit from the corner and Sonia Smith saw her floater hit nothing but net as the Pioneers led 17-7 after one
- The Pioneers locked down the Pride on defense, holding Hofstra to just 3-for-13 shooting with nine turnovers in the opening 10 minutes of play
2nd Quarter (29-24 SHU)
- An extended offensive draught for the Pioneers saw Hofstra claw back into the game as the Pride opened the quarter with a 12-2 run and took their first and only lead of the game at 20-19 midway through the quarter
- Needing a spark, Johnson began to take over at just the right time for the Pioneers as she pumped in seven straight points to end the half, handing SHU a five-point halftime advantage
3rd Quarter (52-36 SHU)
- The SHU lead remained single-digits for the first three minutes of the quarter but the Pioneer onslaught came via a 15-0 run that pushed the Pioneer advantage to 21 points
- In that extended 4+ minute SHU run, the Pioneers held Hofstra to 0-for-6 shooting with three turnovers while the combination of Johnson, Dabney and Hagood combined for the first 13 points of the run capped by a pair of Woods free throws that made it 50-29 SHU
- Hofstra scored seven of the final nine points of the quarter as the Pioneer led 52-36 after three
4th Quarter (71-44 SHU)
- The most-impressive quarter of the game was perhaps the fourth for the Pioneers as their effort didn't relent despite the sizeable advantage
- In the frame, the Pioneers held the Pride to 2-for-15 (13.3 percent) shooting including an 0-for-9 effort on two-point attempts
- SHU, meanwhile, hit on 6-of-9 attempts from the floor including 3-for-4 from long range
- Playing with a limited bench due to injuries around the lineup, the Pioneers were still able to commit on the defensive end throughout the course of play, holding the Pride to just 28.6 percent shooting for the game
- Four Pioneers hit double figures in scoring for the second straight game
- Johnson led the Pioneers in scoring for the second straight game to open the season while Woods has 10+ points in back-to-back games for the upperclassmen newcomers to the SHU lineup
- The Pioneers forced 22 turnovers which led to 20 points as SHU outscored Hofstra in points-off-turnovers 20-13
- SHU led for 38:20 minutes of the action while Hofstra only led for 50 seconds of play
- The ball swung around the perimeter on offense as SHU dished out 16 assists in the course of play while five Pioneers tallied at least two assists
- Allyson Murphy contributed three points, five rebounds and a team-high four assists in her 27 minutes of action
- After missing the opening game of the season with injury, the 2018-19 All-NEC Third Teamer Hagood returned to the lineup and splashed in 13 points (3-9 3FG) in her first game of 2019-20
- Head Coach Jessica Mannetti moved one win closer to a significant career milestone as she now has 99 career victories, one off 100 as she is in her seventh season at the helm of the Pioneers
The Pioneers hit the road on Saturday, Nov. 16 for a 7 PM start at Siena. The two sides met last season in Fairfield with SHU claiming a dominating 72-50 victory over the Saints.