The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers play their first road game of the year against the instate rival Hartford Hawks Monday night. The Pioneers split their first two games of the season at home defeating Saint Peter's on opening night before falling to Saint Joseph's four days later. The match-up is the first of SHU's three non-conference games against Connecticut state rivals this season. The Hawks enter the tilt looking to snap a three game losing streak that has opened their 2010-11 campaign. The Monday night showdown will be broadcast live on television via the Connecticut Sports Network.
Series... The Pioneers own a 5-4 advantage over the Hawks all-time in a series that had its first meeting back in the 1976-77 season. Hartford took last year's clash with SHU at the Pitt Center 68-53. The Hawks have won three straight contests against Sacred Heart, with those three meetings representing the division I record between the two programs.
Bench Production... The Pioneer bench is off to a strong start in 2010-11 after struggling to be a factor last season. The SHU bench outscored Saint Joseph's 18-15 last Tuesday in Fairfield, CT. Sophomore Morgan Merriman has led the charge for the reserves, playing in over 30 minutes in both SHU games while dropping in a career high 12 points against Saint Joseph's. Freshman Blair Koniszewski saw her first collegiate action in the second half versus the Hawks. The Virginia native drained the first shot of her career, a three pointer from the right wing, to tally her first points at the collegiate level.
Taylor Leads the Way... Junior Callan Taylor has averaged 18 points through the Pioneers first two games of 2010-11. The Kansas native was a second-team All-NEC selection last season and ranked first in the league in rebounding, the first Pioneer to accomplish that feat. In Sacred Heart's opening night win over Saint Peter's Taylor went a perfect nine-for-nine from the free throw line. She followed that performance by shooting eight-for-12 from the field, including hitting her only three ball, against Saint Joesph's.
Second Half Surges... The Pioneers have yet to be involved in a close game late in the second half this season. Sacred Heart outscored Saint Peter's 43-19 in the final twenty minutes on opening night. Saint Joseph's returned the favor by pulling away from SHU and winning the second half 40-25. Both of the Pioneers games have been decided by at least 10 points while Hartford has seen no game closer than 20.
Apo Continues To Climb All-Time Lists... Senior captain Alisa Apo posted 11 assists in the first two games of the season to reach 363 helpers in her career. In her six assist performance against Saint Peter's she passed Elaine Agosti for second all-time in SHU history. Apo needs just 32 more assists in 2010-11 to have the most assists in Pioneer history, a mark currently held by Kerri Burke's 394 assists. Apo also moved past Kim Filia for fourth in scoring all-time at SHU with her performance against Saint Joseph's. The senior guard now stands at 1,440 points in her career.
Spreading the Dimes... The Pioneers have proved effective passers early in the season, recording 14 assists in each of the first two contests of the season. Alisa Apo and Ericka Norman led the way in the Pioneers last tilt with Saint Joseph's, each notching five helpers.
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 62 straight contests 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.
Pioneers Ink Two NLI's For 2011-12... Gabrielle Washington (Mesa, AZ) and Katie Shepard (Lone Tree, CO) have signed a national letter of intent and will be Sacred Heart Pioneers in the fall of 2011. Washington, the 2008-09 Pima Region player of the year, has averaged over 20 points per game in her last two seasons. Last season she eclipsed the 1,000 point plateau en route to being named the East Valley Region player of the year. Shepard, a true point guard, averaged eight points and eight assists in her junior season at Chapparal high school. She is a two-time team captain and was a 2010 all-league selection.
The Coaches... Ed Swanson (SHU '89) is in his 21st season as head coach at his alma mater. Swanson posts a 342-233 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 216-114 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 (342). He has been named the NEC Coach of the Year three times and is the all-time leader in regular season NEC wins (150). Jennifer Rizzotti (Connecticut '96) enters her 11th season as the head coach of the Hawks, one year removed from the most successful season in program history. In 2009-10 Hartford won a school record 20 straight games and went a perfect 16-0 in conference play. She is the all-time winningest coach in Hartford history, picking up her 200th victory in December of last season.