The Sacred Heart University women's basketball team tips-off the new season at home Friday in a 7:00 pm showdown with the Saint Peter's Peahens. The Pioneers finished the 2009-10 campaign with a 19-11 record and return four double-digit scorers from a season ago.
The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers officially tip-off the 2010-11 season at home Friday night against the Saint Peter's Peahens. The Pioneers were picked to finish third in the 2010-11 Northeast Conference preseason coaches poll. Guard Alisa Apo was named to the preseason All-NEC team as the two-time All-NEC selection returns for her senior season. The Peahens also open their season against SHU and will remain on the road to take on Hofstra Monday night.
Series... The Peahens lead the all-time series against the Pioneers with a 4-3 record. However, the Pioneers have won three straight including last year's game with Saint Peter's on the road in Jersey City, NJ. SHU came away with a 61-55 behind a dominating performance from Callan Taylor. The Kansas native paced the Pioneers by shooting 75% from the field and posted career highs of 32 points and 14 rebounds.
Scouting the Peahens... Saint Peter's finished the 2009-10 campaign with an 11-19 record and entered the MAAC tournament as the #8 seed. The Peahens were bounced from the postseason and had their season ended by #9 seed Canisius, 65-57. SPC graduated its leading scoring from a season ago in Natasha Morris' 12.2 points per game. Junior Jynae Judson returns after averaging 11.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in 2009-10. Saint Peter's was tabbed ninth in the MAAC preseason poll finishing only ahead of Rider.
SHU Against the MAAC... The Pioneers are 13-18 all-time against opponents who currently reside in the MAAC. But in 2009-10 SHU notched a 3-1 record with victories over Fairfield, Manhattan, and Saint Peter's. Of present MAAC teams SHU has played Fairfield the most often, posting a 5-9 record in 14 meetings. Last year the Pioneers routed the Stags 71-52 in front of 1,104 fans in a contest played at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, CT. Sacred Heart's best head-to-head in the MAAC comes with a 2-0 mark against the Rider Broncs.
Pioneer Sports Network... The Sacred Heart department of athletic communications has teamed up with Stretch Internet to broadcast the 2010-11 season on www.SacredHeartPioneers.com. All home games will feature video as well as audio coverage while most road games will be streamed live with audio only. This year two former SHU women's basketball alumni, Amanda Pape and Karen Bell, will join the broadcast team to provide color commentary. Play-by-play voices Jeff Holtz and Randy Brochu also return to the Pioneers Sports Network for another season to call all of the live action.
The Coaches... Ed Swanson (SHU '89) is in his 21st season as head coach at his alma mater. Swanson posts a 341-232 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 215-113 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 (341). He has been named the NEC Coach of the Year three times and is the all-time leader in regular season NEC wins (150).
Stephanie DeWolfe (Saint Peter's '97) enters her seventh season as the head coach of the Peahens and 15th season overall with the program. DeWolfe was a first-ballot inductee into the Saint Peter's athletic hall of fame back in 2002. In 1998-99 and 199-2000 she was a member of the coaching staff of the year recognized by the New Jersey College Basketball Association.
No Extra Time... Sacred Heart made its way through the entire 2009-10 schedule without playing a single overtime game. The Pioneers have not played an extra period of basketball in 60 games dating back to November 22, 2008. In that game SHU lost a heart breaking 59-58 decision to cross-town rival Fairfield in the Arena at Harbor Yard. The Pioneers last played an overtime game at home back in a Northeast Conference semifinal on March 8, 2005 against Robert Morris. The Colonials earned a 68-62 victory in that contest to advance to the NEC championship game. Sacred Heart last won an overtime game February 26, 2004 in a 99-94 affair against Monmouth that needed double overtime to produce a winner.
Taking Charity... The Pioneers cashed in on 72.9% of their attempts from the charity stripe in 2009-10 to lead the Northeast Conference. Maggie Cosgrove posted the highest percentage for Sacred Heart hitting 39-of-46 from the line for 85%. Alisa Apo paced the Pioneers from the line making 141 free throws, which ranks sixth all-time for SHU in a single season. Apo ranks fourth for career free throws made at Sacred Heart with 385, sitting just nine behind Brooke Kelly in third.
Cosgrove Continues Assault On Record Book... Junior guard Maggie Cosgrove already owns Sacred Heart program records for three-point field goals made in a career and in a single season. The Andover, MA native has drained 193 treys in her three-plus seasons in a Pioneer uniform. In 2009-10 Cosgrove put in 76 shots from downtown to set a single season record. The performance surpassed her own mark of 69 from 2008-09 which now sits tied for second with Lisa Moray's stellar 2006-07 campaign. Cosgrove's 41.4% shooting percentage from three in her career also ranks first in SHU history. In 2009-10 Cosgrove ranked 7th in the NCAA shooting at a 45.5% clip.
Passing Their Way To Wins... The Pioneers were 8-0 in 2009-10 when they posted at least 15 assists. SHU notched a season high 24 assists in a 92-77 victory over Ivy League foe Harvard on November 21. Sacred Heart outscored opponents by an average of 12.6 points in games with at least 15 assists. Alisa Apo complemented her scoring ability by leading SHU with 5.1 assists per game. On the season Apo totaled 153 helpers, which ranks second all-time for a single season.
Crashing The Glass... Callan Taylor nearly averaged a double-double in 2009-10 as she led the Pioneers with 9.4 rebounds per game. She became the first Pioneer to ever lead the Northeast Conference in rebounding. After her first two seasons in Fairfield, CT Taylor has compiled 515 rebounds, putting her on pace to become just the second player to reach the 1,000 mark. Along with her 821 points Taylor could also become just the second player in Pioneer history to eclipse the 1,000 plateau for both points and rebounds. She recorded 16 double-doubles last season to break a SHU division I record, previously held by Jasmine Walker's 13 in 2006-07. Taylor twice put up her season high 14 rebounds in games against Saint Peter's and Yale.
Return of All-Rookie Team Selection Kiley Evans... SHU sophomore Kiley Evans earned four Choice Hotels NEC rookie of the week awards in her freshman season. Evans joined teammates Callan Taylor (2008-09) and Alisa Apo (2007-08) along with former Pioneer Nicolle Rubino (2002-03) as the only SHU players to earn four NEC rookie awards in their debut seasons. Evans finished the year averaging 11.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Apo and Taylor each went on to be named to the All-NEC first or second team after their selection to the All-Rookie squad.
Apo Chases History... Senior guard Alisa Apo has put her name all over the Pioneer record books during her tenure at SHU. She begins the season ranked fifth all-time in scoring and third in assists. As Apo climbs both lists she could become the only player to occupy a spot in the top three in both categories. Amanda Pape is the only player in SHU history to be in both top-fives. Apo would need to break the single season scoring record of Pape (620) and drop in 626 points in 2010-11 to become the Pioneers all-time scoring leader.
Sacred Heart Tabbed Third In NEC Preseason Poll... The Pioneer women's basketball team has been picked to finish third in the 2010-11 NEC standings in a vote of the league's 12 head coaches. Long Island as the preseason favorite to capture the 2010-11 conference title, the Blackbirds received six first-place votes. Robert Morris, the defending regular season champion, came in just ahead of SHU in second and earned three first-place nods. The winners of last year's conference tournament, Saint Francis (PA), came in fourth in the poll and collected two first-place votes. Monmouth claimed the final first-place vote and was selected fifth ahead of Nutmeg State programs Quinnipiac and Central Connecticut State, respectively. Bryant, the conference's newest member was picked eighth while the Knights of Fairleigh Dickinson have been tabbed ninth. The bottom portion of the poll was rounded out in order by Wagner, Mount St. Mary's and St. Francis (NY). The preseason poll has only correctly predicted the conference champion twice in the 25 year history of the Northeast Conference.