Feb. 23, 2009
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (February 23, 2009) - Sacred Heart broke open a four-point game in the second half with a game-changing 15-0 run to pull away for an 81-62 win over Central Connecticut State Monday night in a battle of the top two teams in the Northeast Conference. The Pioneers extend their winning-streak to 16-straight and will have a chance to go undefeated in the NEC when they head to St. Francis (NY) next Monday night. The win also marked the program's fifth 20 win season and the fourth in the last six years.
The CCSU Blue Devils (17-10, 12-4 NEC) came out on fire to start the game as three's by freshmen Shontice Simmons and Gabrielle Oglesby for a 12-6 early lead. CCSU extended it to 14-7 as Simmons hit a wrap-around lay-up at 14:39. The Pioneers began their climb back with back-to-back lay-ins by Callan Taylor (Overland Park, KS) and Kaitlin Sowinski (Hopkinton, RI) to cut the lead down to three but Simmons buried another from downtown to go up 17-11 with 13:08 on the clock.
The Pioneers (20-7, 17-0 NEC) pulled even over the next three minutes thanks to a quick 6-0 spurt but the Blue Devils refused to bend and answered with six quick points of their own with P.J. Wade burying two long jumpers. SHU started to get hot behind the arc and pulled in front by seven thanks to a 20-7 run.
Sophomore Maggie Cosgrove (Andover, MA) and Taylor hit on a pair of three's and senior Liz Gruber (Staten Island, NY) came off the bench to hit from long range as well to help the Pioneers got up 37-30 by the two minute mark. A jumper by junior Lindsey Gibson (Mechanicville, NY) and lay-up from sophomore Alisa Apo (Freehold, NJ) keep CCSU at bay and sent the Pioneers into the locker room up 39-33.
SHU went up eight by the 15:25 mark thanks to a three by senior Khalia Cain (Manchester, CT) but saw Sowinski forced to the bench on Central's next possession with her third foul. The Blue Devils were able to pull within four on consecutive lay-ups by Simmons and Justina Udenze at 14:34, 48-44, but that was as close as they could get as the ensuing Pioneer run put the game out of reach.
Apo got the run started with a pair of free throws followed by her only three of the night at 12:55. The sophomore guard made it three straight buckets with a jumper next time down followed by a triple from Cosgrove to force a Central timeout. Sowinski made it a 15-0 run with a lay-in underneath before a Jhanay Harris three broke the run at 9:19. The Pioneers kept their foot on the gas and extend the run to 22-8 to take a commanding 70-50 lead with just over five minutes left. Sowinski hit another lay-up and Cain finished the rally off with an old fashioned three-point play.
Cosgrove put the stamp on the win burying her fourth three of the night to give the Pioneers their biggest lead, 73-55, with 3:35 left on the road to their 16th-straight win over Central Connecticut.
The Pioneers shot 54.2% (32-59) from the field in the game but where lights out in the second half hitting 60.7% (17-28) and 71.4% (5-7) from behind the arc. SHU also held the edge inside with a 34-28 scoring edge in the paint.
Apo led all scorers with 19 points coming on seven-of-12 shooting to go with four assists, three rebounds a steal and a block. Cosgrove's four threes led to a 14 point night while Taylor just missed a double double with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Central got 18 points and six assists from Simmons while both Oglesby and Wade finished with 10 each. Udenze just missed a double double as well with nine points and 11 rebounds, eight offensive.
The Pioneers will play host to Bryant on Saturday afternoon in the regular season home finale. Saturday will be "Senior Day" as the Pioneers will honor Cain, Gruber, Stephanie Ryan (Coram, NY) and Sowinski before tip-off.