The Storyline... The Pioneer women's basketball team travels to Harvard for a Wednesday non-conference matinee against the Crimson. Sacred Heart has won three straight, and four of its last five, including opening league play with a 76-51 victory over Mount St. Mary's last time out. After Harvard, SHU will play just one more non-conference game this season as St. Bonaventure comes to the Pitt Center December 28. The Pioneer offense has come alive scoring 70 points in three straight games as both Callan Taylor and Alisa Apo have averaged 17 points per game over that span. Sacred Heart's only two losses since Thanksgiving have come against teams who are now ranked in the top 25, Connecticut (#1) and Boston College (#24). Harvard enters the tilt with the Pioneers on the heels of a 96-63 rout of New Hampshire. The Crimson are 2-0 at home in 2010-11 with wins over the Wildcats and Hartford.
Series... The Pioneers defeated Harvard 92-77 last season in Fairfield, CT to move to 1-2 all-time against the Crimson. The 92 points would be the most SHU would score in the 2009-10 season, shooting 47 percent from the floor. Sacred Heart has only traveled to Cambridge, MA once in program history, dropping an 83-50 decision.
Scouting the Crimson... Harvard is averaging over 73 points per game this season, which ranks first in the Ivy League. The Crimson boast a quartet of players averaging double digits in points led by Brogan Berry's 13.4. Teammates Victoria Lippert (12.8), Emma Markley (11.9), and Christine Clark (11.8) are also off to fast starts in 2010-11. Markley paces Harvard on the glass averaging 5.9 boards per game. Harvard also ranks fifth in the nation in free throw shooting, currently holding an 80 percent pace at the line. The Crimson return all five starters from a team that reached the NIT a season ago and were picked to finish second in the Ivy League preseason poll.
SHU Against the Ivy League... The Pioneers are 23-15 (.605) all-time against opponents who currently reside in the Ivy League. Sacred Heart's best head-to-head record in the Ivy League comes against Pricneton with SHU owning a perfect 4-0 mark versus the Tigers. The Pioneers knocked off Yale in New Haven, CT earlier this season as Callan Taylor dropped in 20 points and Kiley Evans hit a pair of late free throws to secure a 70-69 victory.
Apo Continues Assault on Record Book... Senior captain Alisa Apo became the third highest scorer in Sacred Heart history with her 11 point effort against the Mount. The 2008-09 NEC player of the year now sits at 1,546 points for her career, surpassing former teammate Kaitlin Sowinski. Apo now needs 91 points to catch Diane Nicholls, who stands in second place on the all-time scoring list. She is also closing in on the Sacred Heart record for assists in a career needing ten to stand alone in Pioneer history. Kerri Burke's 394 currently rank first in the SHU record book.
Swanson Approaches 350... Head coach Ed Swanson needs just three more victories to reach the 350 mark for his career. Swanson has spent his entire 21 year coaching career at his alma mater and is by far the winningest coach in program history. During his 11 years in the league Swanson has become the all-time leader in Northeast Conference victories with 151.
Emptying the Bench... In each of the last two games the Pioneers have not been shy to go to the bench as all 13 dressed players saw action in both contests. In SHU's 72-33 victory over Siena every player grabbed at least one rebound. No one on the roster played more than 27 minutes in either game as SHU looks to stay rested throughout the year.
Taking Charity... Sacred Heart shot an impressive 86 percent (19-22) from the charity stripe against the Mount and now lead the NEC in free throw percentage. For the year SHU is hitting at just over 70 percent from the line, led by Callan Taylor's 95.5 percent (21-22) pace. The Pioneers have been especially hot as of late, shooting 85 percent or better in three of their last four tilts.
No Late Comebacks... Sacred Heart is a perfect 4-0 when having the advantage entering halftime. SHU is even better, 6-0, after being on top with ten minutes remaining in regulation. However, the Pioneers are 0-4 this season when they trail with ten minutes left. The closest Pioneer win this season was a 70-69 decision over Yale in which the Bulldogs hit a three at a meaningless three at the buzzer. The last come from behind win the Pioneers had came in January of 2010 against Central Connecticut State. In that game the Blue Devils led by one at the half and by six with 11:06 to play in regulation.
Historic Defensive Effort... Sacred Heart tied a division I record by holding Siena to a single field goal in the first half of a 72-33 victory. The Saints managed just seven total points and went one-for-20 (5%) from the field in the opening twenty minutes. For the game Siena managed to shoot just under 20 percent (10-51). The game marked the first time in SHU's division I history the Pioneers held an opponent to under 20 percent from the floor. The previous low came December 2, 2000 in a 70-52 win over Lehigh as the Mountain Hawks shot 20.4% (11-52).
The Coaches... Ed Swanson (SHU '89) is in his 21st season as head coach at his alma mater. Swanson posts a 347-236 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 221-117 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 (347). He has been named the NEC Coach of the Year three times and is the all-time leader in regular season NEC wins (151). Kathy Delaney-Smith (Bridgewater State '71) enters her 29th season at the helm of the Harvard women's basketball program. Delaney-Smith has amassed 444 victories, making her the winningest coach all-time in Ivy League history. She has led the Crimson to 11 Ivy League championships and coached five player of the year recipients.