FAIRFIELD, CONN. (January 4, 2014)—Gabrielle Washington (Mesa, Ariz.) rung in 2014 with a monster game lighting up the scoreboard with a career-high 35 points as the Sacred Heart women's basketball team defeated the Saint Francis University Red Flash 95-88 in the Northeast Conference opener Saturday afternoon in the William H. Pitt Center. Washington also pulled down 10 rebounds for her second career double-double as the Pioneers improve to 4-8 on the season.
Sacred Heart posted its highest field goal percentage of the season, 44.9%, and totaled more than 90 points for the first time since 2009. Four Pioneers reached double-digit scoring. In addition to Washington, Katie Shepard (Lone Tree, Colo.) posted 14 points, while Adaysha Williams (LaCrosse, Wis.) and Hannah Kmmel (Harpursville, N.Y.) reached new career-bests scoring 14 and 12 points respectively.
The rematch of last year's NEC Tournament's semi-final round saw aggressive play from both teams. In the first half alone, the lead changed hands on 10 occasions making it no surprise that at halftime the score was tied at 48.
The Pioneers opened the second half with a quick five points and maintained the lead for the next six minutes until a triple from Hope Phillips put the Red Flash back on top. With just under 12 minutes remaining in the game, a pair of free throws from senior Enjoli Bland (Queen Creek, Ariz.) sparked an 11-point SHU run that lifted the Pioneers to a 74-67 lead.
Tough defense and sharp shooting were the perfect combination allowing Sacred Heart to hold onto the lead until the final buzzer collecting its first conference win of the season.
Saint Francis U's Alli Williams flirted with a double-double leading the Red Flash with 27 points and tallying nine rebounds.
The Pioneers host Robert Morris, who was picked to finish atop the NEC in the preseason poll, Monday night at 7:00 p.m.