January 31, 2009

Strong Second Half Fuels Sacred Heart Pioneers Past CCSU Blue Devils, 76-64

Jan. 31, 2009

Box Score

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (January 31, 2009) - Sacred Heart used a 20-6 run to start the second half to break open what was a two-point lead at the break en route to a 76-64 win over visiting Central Connecticut State in Northeast Conference action Saturday afternoon in the William H. Pitt Center. Senior Stephanie Ryan (Coram, NY) hit for 15 points with eight rebounds as the Pioneers win their ninth-straight to stay perfect in NEC play at 10-0.

The Pioneers (13-7, 10-0 NEC) played almost the entire first half without senior center Kaitlin Sowinski (Hopkinton, RI) who was forced to the bench with two fouls just three minutes into the game. Sowinski converted on a three-point play at 17:10 but was whistled for her second foul on SHU's next trip down going for a loose ball rebound. The Blue Devils took advantage and jumped in front by seven, 15-8, seven and a half minutes in.

Ryan got the Pioneers started on 13-2 run by hitting a pair of three's sandwiched around a sophomore Maggie Cosgrove (Andover, MA) triple to put SHU in front 17-15. Pioneer sophomore reserve Maureen Reilly (Cherry Hill, NJ) hit a lay-in underneath and a pair of free throws to complete the rally giving Sacred Heart a 21-17 lead with 9:56 left in the half. CCSU refused to wilt and answered by taking back the lead, 24-22, after a Jhanay Harris three and driving lay-up by Shontice Simmons at 8:23.

SHU freshman Callan Taylor (Overland Park, KS) gave the Pioneers the lead right back on the next possession drilling a three. The Pioneers where up five, 35-30, after a junior Lindsey Gibson (Mechanicville, NY) lay-in but the Blue Devils struck last as Gabrielle Oglesby hit a three to close the gap to two points at the half. SHU struggled at times in the first half without their all-league center on the court, getting out rebounded 24-16 on the glass. The Pioneers also were off the mark behind the arc, making just four-of-14.

Sacred Heart sprinted out of the locker room to start the second half and scored the first seven points starting with a Cosgrove three 10 seconds in. SHU turned their 7-0 start to the half and rattled off a 20-6 jaunt over the first seven and a half minutes to take a 58-39 lead. Sowinski made her presence felt in the opening minutes of the second half, scoring on a pair of lay-ups while three blocked shots on the defensive end. The Pioneers found their stroke from behind the arc in the second half, hitting six-of-nine as a team with Cosgrove, Ryan and sophomore Alisa Apo (Freehold, NJ) all hitting from downtown on the opening run.

Central Connecticut (12-8, 7-3 NEC) tried to chip away at the Pioneer lead but could get no closer then down nine, 73-64, with 1:10 to go. Sowinski gave the Pioneers a boost on the boards as well, pulling all seven of her boards in the second half as SHU won the second half battle on the glass, 24-13. Sowinski finished the night with 11 points, seven rebounds and four blocks.

Ryan's 15 points came on six-of-nine shooting including three-of-four from behind the line. She added three assists and two steals to her totals. Taylor had 13 points and eight rebounds while Cosgrove finished with 11 points.

Apo had a game-high 17 points to go with six rebounds, four assists and a steal. The Pioneers as a team shot 47.3% (26-55) on the day and finished with 17 assists against a season-low 11 turnovers.

The Blue Devils got 17 points from Kerrianne Dugan while Simmons added 13 and P.J. Wade chimed in with 11 and seven rebounds.

Sacred Heart stays at home to play host to St. Francis-NY on Monday night. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 pm

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