March 13, 2013

SFU Red Flash Eliminate Pioneers in NEC Semifinals

Fairfield, Conn. (March 13, 2013)— The Sacred Heart women's basketball team could not keep up with the fast start from Saint Francis U Wednesday night, falling to the Red Flash 83-67 in the NEC Tournament semifinals at the Pitt Center. 

Gabrielle Washington (Mesa, Ariz.) led the Pioneers with 16 points and added eight rebounds. Ericka Norman (Chino Hills, Calif.) and Blair Koniszewski (Vienna, Va.) each scored 14 points. Norman also led all players with six assists. Enjoli Bland (Queen Creek, Ariz.) led all players with a career-high 16 rebounds.

Saint Francis U's  (17-14) Alli Williams dominated the game early, scoring the Red Flash's first eight points as the visitors took an 8-1 lead 1:13 into the game. The Red Flash opened the game 7-for-10 from downtown, and used an 11-0 run midway through the half to take a 29-9 lead. Sacred Heart (22-10) closed to within 16 points twice as a pair of Katie Shepard (Lone Tree, Colo.) free throws made the score 40-24 with 2:00 to play in the half. Saint Francis U got the lead back up to 20 by halftime when Aisha Brock banked in a triple to beat the first half buzzer.

The two teams traded baskets to start the second half, with the Red Flash taking a 58-38 lead with 12:57 to play. Sacred Heart then went on an 11-2 run over the next 3:25 to cut Saint Francis U's lead to 11, 60-49. Norman scored seven of the Pioneers' 11 points in the spurt. Sacred Heart closed to within 10 with 5:39 to play on a Washington jumper that made the score 63-53, but that would be as close as the Pioneers would get. The Red Flash went on an 11-2 run after Washington's basket to take a 74-55 lead, putting the game out of reach.

Saint Francis U shot 39.1% from the field to Sacred Heart's 32.1%. The Red Flash also shot 40.6% from the three-point arc. The Pioneers held a 44-40 edge on the glass. However, Sacred Heart committed 23 turnovers that turned into 21 Red Flash points. Rebecca Sparks led Saint Francis U with 27 points as Williams notched a double-double of 24 points and 12 rebounds.

Sacred Heart now waits to see what its postseason plans will be. If Quinnipiac wins the NEC Tournament championship game on Sunday, the Pioneers would qualify for the WNIT based on their second-place conference finish.