West Long Branch, NJ – Maureen Reilly (Cherry Hill, NJ) had a career-high ten points but the Pioneer women's basketball team struggled offensively in a 55-37 loss at Monmouth Monday night. Sacred Heart shot 27 percent (13-49) from the field while the Hawks posted a 36 percent (22-61) mark. Ericka Norman (Chino Hills, CA) recorded a game high five steals and chipped in eight points in the loss.
Monmouth (11-4, 3-1 NEC) got on the board first as Abby Martin found a layup on the game's first possession but Reilly responded for SHU with a jumper from the foul line. The Hawks took control early with a 7-0 run to build a 9-2 cushion. Alexis Canady hit the first trey of the night during the Monmouth surge.
Sacred Heart (9-6, 3-1 NEC) answered with a 6-0 spurt of their own, sparked by a Norman steal and lay-in at the 14:50 mark. Norman's second steal of the night came on the next possession and Kiley Evans (Cazenovia, NY) finished the play with a layup. Blair Koniszewski (Vienna, VA) knocked down a trey, her first shot of the game, to knot the game at 11-11 with nine minutes remaining in the first half.
The Hawks regained the momentum and rattled off an 11-2 run on the strength of Womack and Carly Thibault trey's as well as a conventional three-point play from Martin. Maggie Cosgrove (Andover, MA) ended the spurt with a jumper on a set piece play. Monmouth would end the opening period with a pair of long range shots to take a 30-18 lead into halftime.
SHU finished the first half shooting 36 percent (8-22) from the floor compared to 37.5 percent (12-32) for the Hawks. After the first twenty minutes Monmouth held a 22-13 rebounding advantage and forced SHU into ten turnovers.
Reilly scored the first six Pioneer points in the second half, beginning with a straight away three. Two possessions later she misfired on another trey attempt. But the senior grabbed her own rebound and drew a foul with a lay-in to complete an old-fashioned three-point play. However, the Hawks continued the pressure and a Womack fast break layup gave Monmouth a 42-27 lead with 13:13 to play.
The Pioneers then endured a 5:46 slump without a field goal before Reilly forced her way inside for a contested layup. Martin answered for the Hawks with three points during the next two possessions as Monmouth pushed ahead, 50-29.
Sacred Heart then got a five point trip up the floor as Norman forced another steal and drew an intentional foul on her way to the rim. After the freshman guard made both free throws, the Pioneers found Koniszewski for her second trey of the game. Shira Shecht made sure the Hawks stayed hot as she buried a long ball of her own on the next Hawks possession.
Both teams sent in its reserves down the stretch as Monmouth picked up the 55-37 victory, giving SHU its first conference loss of the season. The Pioneers will return to action Saturday afternoon in the Pitt Center for a 1:00 pm meeting with Bryant.