Feb. 21, 2009
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (February 21, 2009) - The Sacred Heart Pioneers clinched the 2009 Northeast Conference Regular Season Championship Saturday afternoon beating the Monmouth Hawks, 70-50, in the William H. Pitt Center. Five Pioneers scored in double figures as the team shot 52.8% (28-53) from the field to win their 15th-straight game and stay perfect in the NEC at 16-0 with the win. The Pioneers tied their school record of 16 conference wins and have a chance to become just the third team in league history to run the table with two games to play.
The only Monmouth (14-12, 8-7 NEC) lead came in the game's opening minutes as seniors Marbely Montas and Jennifer Bender hit on back-to-back three point plays for a 6-4 advantage. From there it was all Sacred Heart as the Pioneers ripped off a 19-2 run over the next seven minutes to take command.
Senior Khalia Cain (Manchester, CT), sophomore Maggie Cosgrove (Andover, MA) and freshman Callan Taylor (Overland Park, KS) all hit from behind the arc on the run as the Pioneers went up 23-8 at the 10:55 mark. The Hawks were able to cut the lead down to 10, 28-18 and force SHU center Kaitlin Sowinski (Hopkinton, RI) to the bench with two fouls with 6:52 to go in the half.
Instead of seeing their lead cut into further, the Pioneers (19-7, 16-0 NEC) responded and finished the first half on a 13-4 run. Sophomore Alisa Apo (Freehold, NJ) scored seven of Sacred Heart's final 13 points of the half to send her team to the locker room up 41-22. Apo finished with 12 of her 14 points in the first half.
The second half was more of the same for SHU as the Pioneers let their lead fall below 14 just twice on the road to victory. The Hawks opened the second half with back-to-back three's from Bender and Marisa Jimenez to pull within 41-28 but SHU quickly responded with three-straight jumpers of the hand of Cain to pus the lead back to 19.
MU's Marbely cut the lead to 13 again, 49-36, at the 12:53 mark with a runner in the lane but the Pioneers again answered with a three by Cosgrove and a three-point play by Taylor to lead 60-41 with under 10 left. The closest Monmouth would get is down 14 in the closing minutes before SHU's Apo, Sowinski and Taylor all hit jumpers down the stretch to produce the 70-50 final.
The Pioneers got 14 points from both Apo and Taylor as well as 13 from Cosgrove and 12 from Sowinski. Cain came off the bench to finish with a season-high 11 in 32 minutes of action. Apo added five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Taylor dished out a career-high five helpers in the win. SHU won the battle of the boards with 33 caroms, 13 offensive, leading to 15 second chance points.
The Hawks got 18 points and seven rebounds from Bender in the loss while Montas finished with nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Sacred Heart will take their unbeaten NEC record upstate to New Britain to take on the second place Central Connecticut Blue Devils. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 pm.