Jan. 16, 2010
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (January 16, 2010) - The Sacred Heart Pioneers overcame their worst shooting performance of the season and held off a late Central Connecticut rally to come away win their 27th-straight win against Northeast Conference competition, 54-49, over the Blue Devils in New Britain Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers shot just 33.9% (19-56) but got 15 points and 11 rebounds from Callan Taylor (Overland Park, KS) to improve to 13-4 overall and 6-0 in the NEC with the win.
Sacred Heart (13-4, 6-0 NEC) led by as many as 21 in both halves but had to hold back the Blue Devils who cut the lead down to just four late. CCSU started the game in an offensive funk, going just over five minutes before their first basket, a Leanne Crockett lay-up, but SHU led just 7-2 despite the drought. Central continued to struggle offensively and the Pioneers ran out to a 14-2 lead at the second media time out.
An Alexzandria Dowdy free throw was all the Blue Devils would manage over a span of just over 10 minutes as SHU went on to lead 20-3. Central was plagued all half by turnovers, committing 16 miscues, 14 over the span of SHU's 20-3 opening run. Crockett ended the second scoring drought with a put back lay-in at 5:47. With the Pioneers up 26-5, senior guard Emily Rose got Central on track with a jumper followed by a break-away lay-up off a steal. From there, the Blue Devils closed the half on an 11-2 run leaving the Pioneers up 28-16 at the break.
Sacred Heart came out quick to start the second half and used an opening 13-4 run to build their lead back to 21 points, 41-20. SHU senior Lindsey Gibson (Mechanicville, NY) started and ended the rally with a pair of jumpers while junior Maggie Cosgrove (Andover, MA) buried a three. A jumper by freshman Kiley Evans (Cazenovia, NY) at the 11:30 mark put SHU up 43-25 and the Pioneers looked to be in control.
Outside of four free throws, Evans make would prove to be the Pioneers' only field goal until a jumper by Alisa Apo (Freehold, NJ) at 2:17. In between, the Blue Devils would piece together a 19-3 run to pull within 46-44 with just over three minutes left. Dowdy, who had 15 of her game-high 16 points in the second half, pulled her team within a pair, 46-44, on a lay-up with 3:23 on the clock.
Apo drew a foul but made just one of two on SHU's next possession as Central went down looking to cut it to one or tie. CCSU forward Justina Udenze was called for a travel, giving Apo and the Pioneers he chance to get some breathing room and the junior guard delivered. Apo hit on a jumper from the win followed with a lay-up drawing a foul on back-to-back possessions for a 51-44 lead with 1:32 left. She would miss the free throw to extend the lead but Central couldn't capitalize and was forced to foul with under a minute left.
Taylor would hit a pair from the line and Apo would make one of two to help keep Central at bay on the way to their 24th-straight regular season conference win. Apo would join Taylor in double figures, scoring 12 points with five assists and five steals. For Taylor it was her ninth double double of the season. The Pioneers turned 25 Central Connecticut turnovers in to 24 points at the other end as they won their 17th-straight over the Blue Devils, a streak that goes back to the 2000-01 season.
In addition to Dowdy's 16, CCSU got matching double doubles from Udenze and Crockett. Udenze came off the bench for 14 points with 13 boards while Crocket had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Pioneers and Blue Devils will take the hardwood again in just five days, facing off at the William H. Pitt Center on Thursday night at 5:00 pm.