Feb. 18, 2008
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (February 18, 2008) - Junior Kaitlin Sowinski (Hopkinton, RI) scored a game-high 21 points as the Sacred Heart Pioneers battled their way past a resilient Wagner Seahawk club for their fifth-straight win, 54-49, Monday night in Northeast Conference play. SHU improved to 18-8 and 13-2 in the NEC with the win.
The Pioneers had the hot hand from behind the arc in the first half especially early on as three's by juniors Stephanie Ryan (Coram,NY), Khalia Cain (Manchester, CT) and freshman Alisa Apo (Freehold, NJ) gave SHU a 13-8 lead five and a half minutes in. The Seahawks did a nice job defensively, limiting Sowinski's touches and forcing the Pioneers to whittle down the shot clock on most possession. Leading 16-10, Sacred Heart went nearly six minutes without a field goal but held Wagner at bay and never giving up the lead.
SHU finally found a way to get the ball into Sowinski who scored her first field goal at 6:22 to give the Pioneers a 19-15 lead. The junior center scored nine of the Pioneers final 12 points of the half and was stellar on the defensive end registering five blocks in the first stanza. The Seahawks continued to chip away and pulled within one, 21-20, for the third time since the opening minutes. Sacred Heart had an answer and again it was from behind the arc as Apo's second three of the half and a pair of Sowinski lay-ins in the closing second sent the Pioneers into the break up 28-24.
Sacred Heart opened second half with a 6-2 run that forced a Wagner timeout at 17:05. The Pioneers made it a 9-2 run for a 37-26 lead, forcing yet another Seahawk timeout at 15:31. From there though, the Seahawks responded and got two-straight jumpers from Chelsea Bunyer. Wagner took the two jumpers and built them into a 15-5 run over the next nine minutes to claw their way back to within one, 42-41, with 6:23 to play.
The Pioneers needed to respond once again to and did as a Sowinski three-point play was followed by a Ryan three and SHU led 48-43 with 3:17 to play. As they did all night, Wagner refused to falter and fought and clawed their way back, again to within one. A pair of Bunyer free throws pulled her team to within 49-45 and then Stokes came up with a huge three, getting the Seahawks to within 49-48 with 1:10 left.
SHU worked the shot clock all the way down on the following possession before a cutting Cain found Sowinski underneath, who just beat the shot clock for her final bucket of the game and a three point lead. Wagner's Ridge was able to get to the hoop and draw a foul on the ensuing possession but made just one of two setting up a possible foul situation. The Pioneers, however, helped the Seahawks out and turned the ball after Ryan got loose and looked headed for an uncontested lay-up she was called for the travel. Wagner's Andrea Reed tried to go the length of the court and her lay-up missed the mark with three ticks left and Cosgrove corralled the rebound and hit both free throws off the foul to seal it and let her team escape with a 53-49 win.
Sowinski added six rebounds and six blocks to her Monday night totals while Ryan also found double digit with her eight double double of the year on 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Pioneers cooled off from three in the second half, hitting one-of-nine to finish the night six-of-19. The Pioneers turned the ball over 20 times, leading to 20 Seahawk points at the other end.
Sacred Heart will travel to Quinnipiac on Saturday afternoon for a 1:00 pm start