FAIRFIELD, CONN. (November 11, 2013)--Gabrielle Washington (Mesa, Ariz.) and Caitlyn Abela (South Easton, Mass.) of the Sacred Heart women's basketball team took home both of the first Northeast Conference weekly awards Monday afternoon. Washington earned her first NEC Player of the Week nod of the season, and Abela got the NEC Rookie of the Week nod after making her collegiate debut in Friday's heartbreaking overtime 77-72 loss to St. John's.
Washington was responsible for the NEC's single-game scoring high during the season's opening weekend, posting a double-double in a near-upset of Big East member St. John's. The junior guard, and preseason all-NEC selection, poured in 26 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in the 77-72 overtime defeat. Washington forced the extra session by sinking three straight free throws after drawing a foul while attempting a three-pointer with 00:16 remaining in regulation. Washington, who ranked seventh amongst Division I free throw percentage leaders (.910) last year, hit 6 of 7 attempts from the charity strip during the season opener. Five of Washington's 26 points came during the overtime as the Pioneers nearly emerged on the winning side of their first-ever meeting with St. John's. Washington, who went 4-for-9 from downtown over 44 minutes of floor time, scored the first two points of overtime on a pair of free throws and later sank a trifecta that tied the score at 70-70 with 2:36 left in the extra period.
Making her collegiate debut against a Big East team that is coming off a NCAA Tournament appearance, Abela looked like a seasoned veteran at times. The 6-foot-1 freshman guard scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds in an overtime loss to St. John's, a team that returns three starters from last year's NCAA run and was picked to finished third in the Big East. Abela was 5-of-10 shooting from the field, including a 2-for-4 clip from beyond the arc, and sank 4 of 6 free throw attempts. Abela's points (16) and rebounds (7) totals are both single-game highs amongst NEC rookies thus far this season.
The Pioneers hit the road this weekend in search of their first win of 2013-14 at Yale Saturday at 3:00 p.m.