Feb. 28, 2006
WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ (February 28, 2006) - The Sacred Heart women's basketball team fought their way to a 64-63 win at Monmouth University Tuesday night, taking home their first-ever Northeast Conference Regular Season Championship. The Pioneers now move on to the NEC Tournament as the #1 seed and will host throughout the playoffs.
SHU used their full court press effectively in the first half, forcing 13 Hawk turnovers but some erratic offense left the Pioneers trailing at the half, 33-31.
In a back and forth game that spilled over into the second half, the Pioneers found themselves down six, 56-50, with 6:20 to play. SHU used a 6-0 run to pull even and then tied it again at 59-59 two minutes later.
Sophomore Lisa Moray buried a three to push SHU in front by three, 62-59, with three minutes left, just after the Pioneers twin centers Jasmine Walker and Kaitlin Sowinski had fouled out of the game. Monmouth's Veronica Randolph buried a falling jumper and was fouled but missed the chance to tie when her free throw missed at 2:36.
The Hawks did however grab the lead back as Marisa Jimenez drew a foul leaning in with 1:20 to go and buried both. The Pioneers came down and after a timeout, senior Nicolle Rubino was fouled on her way to the hoop and the senior promptly stepped up and sank both to put SHU up 64-63 with 1:00 minute left.
On Monmouth's next possesion, the ball went in low to Jennifer Bender who put the ball on the floor where Moray was able to make a swipe at it and got the steal. The Pioneers took their time setting up a play, but Monmouth forced SHU's hand and forced a shot-clock violation with 7.6 seconds left.
The Hawks used a timeout to set up the final play for senior Niamh Dwyer, but her shot caromed off at the horn and the Pioneers escaped with the win.
Sacred Heart's Amanda Pape led all scorers with 17 points and completed teh double double with a career-high 14 rebounds. Walker and Rubino each had 16 in the win.
Monmouth, finishes the year 14-13 and 11-7 in the NEC and will be the #4 seed in the tournament. The Hawks will host Long Island on Saturday.
The Pioneers will host the #8 seed Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday afternoon in the opening round of the NEC Tournament. Tip is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. in the William H. Pitt Center where the Pioneers are undefeated (12-0) this season.