January 5, 2013

SHU Women's Hoops Kicks Off Conference Play Saturday Against St. Francis Brooklyn

Full Game Notes

Setting the Scene... The Pioneers are riding a four-game winning streak heading into Saturday's Northeast Conference opener. The defending NEC Champions look to kick off conference play with a win as they host St. Francis Brooklyn Saturday at 1:00 p.m. in the William H. Pitt Center. The Terriers closed out their non-conferece schedule, and 2012, with a 58-55 win over Rider.

Series Notes... This is the 31st time in program history the Pioneers have played St. Francis Brooklyn
- The Pioneers lead the all-time series 21-8
- Sacred Heart has 10 wins against St. Francis Brooklyn at home
- The last time SHU dropped a game to the Terriers was February 13, 2010 when St. Francis Brooklyn squeezed past the Pioneers 64-63

SHU Against the NEC... Sacred Heart is 194-96 all-time against Northeast Conference opponents
- The Pioneers went 15-3 last season against the NEC, including three tournament wins en route to their third NEC Championship
- Sacred Heart only lost to Quinnipiac, Monmouth and LIU Brooklyn last year
- SHU has a winning record against all NEC teams: Central Connecticut State 26-12, Fairleigh Dickinson 22-1, LIU Brooklyn 14-12, Monmouth 17-11, Mount St. Mary's 22-4, Quinnipiac 34-25, Robert Morris 17-7, Saint Francis (PA) 13-8, St. Francis Brooklyn 21-8 and Wagner 18-8

Going for Five... The Pioneers enter Saturday's game riding the momentum of a four-game winning streak. It started with a 55-38 win over Manhattan on December 17, followed by a 73-63 win over Lehigh on the road. Sacred Heart completed its sweep of MAAC opponents (3-0) with the 61-60 win over Siena, and closed the non-conference schedule with a 67-62 rout of Yale.

Last Season Against the NEC...The Sacred Heart Women's Basketball Team capped off the 2011-12 season with a trip to Chapel Hill for the first round of the NCAA Tournament after winning their third Northeast Conference Championship. The Pioneers earned the top seed after going 12-3 in conference play, only falling to No. 2 Quinnipiac, No. 3 Monmouth and No. 6 LIU Brooklyn. In the Quarterfinals, SHU knocked off No. 8 Fairleigh Dickinson 62-58. Then they took down No. 4 Robert Morris 61-56 earning their way into the Championship matchup against the Monmouth Hawks. On March 11, in front of the third largest crowd in Sacred Heart women's basketball history, the Pioneers topped Monmouth 58-48 for their third title in the last seven years. Before the tournament, then senior Callan Taylor was named the 2012 NEC Player of the Year, Gabrielle Washington the 2012 Rookie of the Year and Head Coach Ed Swanson was named the Brenda Reilly Coach of the Year.

West Coast Impact... Four Pioneers from the west coast have been coming up big for Sacred Heart this season. Gabrielle Washington (Mesa, Ariz.) leads the team, and is 3rd in the league and 88th in the country, averaging 17.2 points per game. The sophomore has not posted less than 10 points in a game this season, with her high of 25 coming coming against Siena. This year she had a streak of 31 made free throws and currently posts a 94.9 free throw percentage, fourth in the nation. Enjoli Bland, another Arizona native, has been producing at the boards. The junior center averages 5.8 rebounds per game, a team high, landing her 12th in the NEC. Point Guard Ericka Norman is ranked 4th in the country averaging 4.08 steals per game. The Chino Hills, Calif. native's 7.0 assists per game earn her the No. 7 spot in the country. Norman set a new career-high of 13 assists in back-to-back games in the Preseason WNIT. All the way from Seattle, Wa., Morgan Merriman has been a constant for the Pioneers this season. So far in her senior year, Merriman is second on the team, averaging 12.8 points per game, making her 10th in the conference. She performed best in front of her home crowd in the Washington Dental Thanksgiving Tournament hosted by Seattle University recording a career-high 25 points against Boston College. Her 48.6 field goal percentage is 4th in the conference.