Pioneer Women's Hoop Survives at St. Francis, 63-62

BROOKLYN, NY (February 11, 2006) - Sacred Heart's Amanda Pape (Stamford, CT) buried a pair of free throws with 16.3 seconds left to put the icing on a 15-point second half comeback as the Pioneers snuck away with a 63-62 win at St. Francis-NY. The win improves the Pioneers to 18-4 overall and 11-2 in the Northeast Conference.

Sacred Heart trailed at the half for the fourth straight-game, falling behind by thirteen, 36-23, their biggest first half deficit since trailing 47-21 at Ohio State. SHU struggled mightily on offense, shooting just 33.3% while the Terriers took full advantage.

SFNY hit 54.2% (13-24) led by 13 from Kara Ayers. The Terriers outscored SHU 16-4 in the paint and turned eight Pioneer turnovers into 15 points on the other end. Pape and senior Nicolle Rubino (Port Jefferson Station, NY) hit just two-of-16 from the field over the first 20 minutes.

St Francis grabbed their biggest lead at 15 right out of the half as Katja Bavendam hit a lay-up two minutes in. The Sacred Heart offensive woes continued as the Pioneer's top-three scorers, Pape, Jasmine Walker (Amityville, NY) and Rubino hit just eight-for-31 through the 13 minute mark. Walker ended the drought, hitting a three-point play at 10:53 to cut the lead down to 10.

The lead held at double digits until the six minute mark when the Pioneers began to make their move. A 10-2 run got Sacred Heart to within two, 56-54 at the three-minute mark. A three by Rubino got it started and Pape capped it with a free throw. Bavendam pushed the lead back to three with a free throw but Pape pulled SHU to within one, 57-56, with a lay-up at 2:30.

SFNY's Valentina Ionova broke fee offensively and put an uncontested lay-up in for a three-point advantage, 59-56. SHU rushed up court and point guard Kerri Burke (Saugus, MA) penetrated the lane and kicked it out to Lisa Moray (Hopewell Junction, NY) who buried a three from the right wing to knot the game at 59 apiece with just over two minutes to go.

SHU had a chance to grab their first lead of the day at 1:41 but a pair of Walker free throws missed their mark. The Pioneers got another chance to jump in front and Pape delivered hitting one of two from the line to pull in front, 60-59. The Terriers responded and got a three-point play from Ayers go back in front by two, 62-60. Burke had a chance to tie with a pair of free throws but hit just one on the Pioneer's next possession.

The Terriers had a chance to push their lead to three as Ionova drew a foul and went to the line for two. She missed both and Pape grabbed the rebound with 37 seconds left and SHU used their final timeout to set up the final shot. The ball went to Pape who took a pass cutting across the lane and got to the hoop drawing a foul with 16 ticks left.

SFNY called their final timeout to try and ice the junior guard, but Pape stepped right up to the stripe and buried both to give SHU a 63-62 lead. The Terriers came down court and looked to go to their top-scorer, Tiffany Hill for the final shot. The Pioneer defense cut her off and the ball went out to Ionova who launched a three that missed the mark and Burke grabbed the loose ball as time ran out to seal the win.

Pape and Walker were the only two Pioneers in double figures for the second-straight game. Walker finished with a double double, scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, nine offensive. Pape just missed her second straight double dip with 16 points and nine boards while also collecting five steals.

SHU shot 33.3% as a team and just three of 14 from behind the arc. The Pioneers also struggled at the line hitting 16-of-26. The win is Sacred Heart's 12th-straight over the Terriers, all coming since SHU joined the NEC in 1999.

The Terriers drop their ninth-straight and are now 3-20 overall and 2-12 in the league. Ayers finished with a career-high 16 points in the loss while Bavendam had 14 with 10 rebounds and four blocks. Hill tallied 13.

The Pioneers are right back in action on Monday night when they host Mount St. Mary's at 7 pm in the William H. Pitt Center where they are 9-0 this season.