No. 4 SHU Draws No. 5 Bryant In NEC Quarterfinals Slated for Wednesday

No. 4 SHU Draws No. 5 Bryant In NEC Quarterfinals Slated for Wednesday

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LORETTO, Pa. – The no. 4 Sacred Heart University women's basketball team (13-16, 9-9 NEC) will step into a Northeast Conference Quarterfinals clash with no. 5 Bryant (9-20, 8-10 NEC) slated for Wednesday, March 7 at 8:00 p.m. held at host no. 1 Saint Francis U's DeGol Arena.

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All-time…

SHU leads the all-time Division I series with Bryant 14-6, and have won two of the last five contests. The two teams have a history of keeping things close. The most recent time a game was decided by double-digits, besides last season, fell on January 28, 2013 where the Pioneers reigned victorious 62-44.

The Pioneers last time out…

SHU avenged its earlier season loss to Fairleigh Dickinson knocking off the Knights, 61-43, Saturday afternoon at the Pitt Center on Senior Day. The Knights connected first working up an early 4-0 advantage in the game's opening minutes. The visitors' lead lasted a little over two minutes before a layup by Candice Leatherwood put the Pioneers ahead and gave them a lead their opponent failed to take back. SHU expanded its lead to 18, the largest of the afternoon, capped on the backend of Tykera Carter free throws at 1:38 in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs last time out…

Sophomore Stephanie Lesko connected on three triples, but Bryant fell to St. Francis Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon, 66-60, at the Pope Physical Education Center in Brooklyn Heights. Freshman Hannah Scanlan poured in seven points and sophomore Sydney Holloway added six as the Bulldogs broke out to an early lead and ended the first quarter leading, 20-7. St. Francis Brooklyn bounced back in the second quarter thanks to six points in the frame from Casey Carangelo and five from Jade Johnson. The Terriers trimmed the Bulldog lead to two, 33-31, entering the half. 

A Lesko 3-pointer was the only field goal for Bryant in the third quarter. Redshirt-junior Naomi Ashley added a pair of free throws, but SFBK outscored Bryant, 12-5, in the quarter. Both teams' offenses clicked in the fourth, as the Terriers paced the Bulldogs and extended their lead after scoring 23 points in the final quarter. Lesko and junior Haley Connors added a pair of 3-point baskets in the quarter.

No. 5 Bryant…

The Bulldogs finished fifth amongst its league opponents mirroring an 8-10 league clip with LIU Brooklyn. Bryant is currently on a four-game skid raking losses against St. Francis Brooklyn, LIU Brooklyn, Saint Francis U and Robert Morris. This decline follows 3-1 streak getting the better of Wagner, Mount St. Mary's and Fairleigh Dickinson.

Sydney Holloway's 17.4 points a game nearly doubles the next leading Bulldog-Naomi Ashley with 9.1. Holloway's scoring figure ranks third in the league but takes first-place honors in rebounding, 10.3, as the sole NEC representative averaging a double-double.

No. 1 Saint Francis U…

SFU has won 12 of its last 13 games, with SHU interrupting their streak back in mid-February. SHU stunned then-top-seeded Saint Francis U on the Red Flash's home-court edging the foe by one. On the frontend of the two teams shared meetings, the Pioneers fell 89-48, to roll out their season. 

After matching records with Robert Morris to close the season, the Red Flash were granted the one seed topping the Colonials with a better NCAA RPI. The Red Flash's first assignment is No. 8 Fairleigh Dickinson prior to the SHU/Bryant contest.

Jessica Kovatch spearheads the Red Flash offense pouring 24 points each outing for 719 registered in the season.

No. 8 Fairleigh Dickinson…

FDU dropped four of its first five in NEC action and rallied behind a 5-0 mark to help make up for it. The Knights have fell in its final five meetings as the last team to clinch a playoff right finishing 7-11.

Amina Markovic (12.5) and Madelynn Comly (10.4) are in FDU's scoring forefront. Lauren Francillon are leading the Knights on the glass with 7.6 boards per game.

The first time around…

On January 15, after leading for almost 33 minutes straight in large part to Tykera Carter's career-high 21 point-production, the SHU's defense faltered in the fourth allowing Bryant to rattle off seven unanswered points. Such spurt not only gave way to the Bulldog's first lead since the game's early proceedings but rhythm the Pioneers failed to nullify. Candice Leatherwood's hard take to the rack knotted the score once more but Bryant credited 19 of the game's final 30 points to escape with the 81-73 conclusion, Monday afternoon at the Pitt Center.

Four Pioneers led a balanced attack against the Bulldogs the first time around with Carter netting a career-high 21 points on 41.2-percent shooting. The senior guard also distributed a pair of assists, hauled five boards and a steal. Carter also tied a career-high four triples connecting on 50-percent of her tries and was seamless at the stripe (3-of-3). 

Katherine Haines contributed 18 points on 58.3-percent shooting and was two rebounds shy of a double-double. She also swatted three Bryant shot attempts and came up with a steal. Candice Leatherwood (12) and Erin Storck (10) also tallied. The redshirt-junior dealt seven assists, but was just a 57.1-percent free-throw shooter and turned the rock over eight times. She partly made up for it with four thefts. Storck added a pair of dimes, a steal and five boards.

The second time around…

On February 5, SHU was down just two with the shot-clock turned off in a tightly contested battle with host Bryant. A pair of missed free-throws by the Bulldogs gave hope back to the Pioneers but a rebound falling in the hands of Bryant put out any kindle of a SHU comeback. Redshirt-junior Candice Leatherwood logged a new career-high 26 points in the 60-56 loss Monday evening at the Chace Athletic Center.

Leatherwood's personal best still stands and was supported by five rebounds, two assists and a steal. The Pioneers' next leading scorer was Adrianne Hagood off the bench with seven points on 1-of-6 shooting. Abigail Kangudie led SHU with nine boards.

Last year's tourney journey…

Bryant prohibited championship opportunities for the Pioneers in the semifinals, 75-68 after SHU topped St. Francis Brooklyn by 21-point margin.

Against Bryant, then-senior Adaysha Williams put up a career-high 26 points picking up 10 in the first four minutes of the third quarter. She received scoring help from Katherine Haines and Tykera Carter to keep both teams within striking distance of one another. 

The Pioneers broke the program's three-point record to victimize the Terriers last season. The Pioneers were lighting it up from beyond the arc, shooting 45.5-percent (10-of-22) in the first half, alone. SHU concluded the game shooting 47.1-percent (16-of-34). All five starters-including Katherine Haines-hit a shot beyond the arc. The Pioneers' 90 points scored nabbed a season-high. 

SHU in the NEC…

SHU is the only team to make the NEC Tournament every year while a member of the league dating back to the 1999-00 season.