Taylor’s Double-Double Leads Pioneers Past Blue Devils, 71-55
New Britain, CT – Junior Callan Taylor (Overland Park, KS) recorded her Northeast Conference leading 10th double-double of the season with 22 points and 11 rebounds as the SHU women's basketball team picked up a road win over Central Connecticut State Monday night. Maggie Cosgrove (Andover, MA) sank 8-of-10 attempts from the free throw line to finish with 14 points along with a game high eight assists. The Pioneers used a 50 percent shooting mark in the first half and forced 27 total Blue Devil turnovers to overcome CCSU's Justina Udenze's 23 point, 19 rebound performance.
Sacred Heart (17-10, 11-5 NEC) traded baskets with the home team over the first four minutes as both Taylor and Alexis Campbell (Ashburn, VA) posted four points each in the opening minutes. Cosgrove gave the Pioneers separation and kicked-off a 12-2 SHU spurt with a three-pointer. Campbell also hit a triple on the surge while Kiley Evans (Cazenovia, NY) put Sacred Heart on top 20-10 with an offense rebound and layup at the 8:42 mark.
Central Connecticut State (16-10, 9-7 NEC) ended the Pioneer run as Alexzandria Dowdy picked up a steal and finished a lay-in at the other end. Ericka Norman (Chino Hills, CA) responded for the visitors with her only trifecta of the contest. Norman finished the game with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including four assists and a pair of steals. The Blue Devils would notch the next five points after Norman's trey to make it a 23-17 game and force a SHU timeout.
The Pioneers answered the challenge from head coach Ed Swanson with an 11-2 run over the next 3:07. Morgan Merriman (Seattle, WA) gave Sacred Heart some momentum with a bucket as part of her six point, six rebound outing. Evans completed a conventional three-point play while a Taylor layup gave SHU its largest lead of the period at 34-19. Cosgrove tallied the final Pioneer points of the half with another trey as Sacred Heart took a 40-28 cushion into the intermission.
Taylor paced the Pioneers with nine points and seven rebounds heading into the locker room while Evans had seven points and five boards. Sacred Heart shot 51.5 percent (17-33) in the opening period and forced 12 CCSU miscues. The Pioneers are now 13-0 this season when holding the advantage at halftime.
Taylor took over the SHU offense early in the second half, notching all of the Pioneers first eight points in the opening six minutes, including a pair of shots from beyond the arc. The six-foot junior also hit a pair of free throws with 10:35 remaining in regulation to give Sacred Heart would be its largest lead of the game at 52-35. The Blue Devils would close the gap to 56-46 with an 11-4 spurt in which the CCSU press limited the Pioneers without a field goal for just over seven minutes.
The Blue Devils managed to get no closer than nine points at 58-49 on a free throw from Udenze. The Pioneers closed the game with 13 points from the charity stripe in the final two minutes of regulation. SHU attempted 27 free throws in the second half and finished the contest 21-32 (65.6%) at the free throw line. Central Connecticut State managed just 56.5 percent (13-23) on its free throws, including a 5-of-11 mark from Udenze.
Sacred Heart pressured the Blue Devils into 15 turnovers in the final twenty minutes and held CCSU without a three-point field goal in the second half. The final points of the night came on two Cosgrove free throws with 11 seconds to play as SHU claimed the 71-55 victory.
The Pioneers now sit in a three-way tie for second place in the NEC standings and are only one game out of first-place. Sacred Heart will play its last two games in the friendly confines of the William H. Pitt Center. SHU is next in action Saturday afternoon against another squad tied for second in the Monmouth Hawks. Tip-off is set for 1:00 pm.