March 4, 2006
FAIRFIELD, CT (March 4, 2006) - Five Pioneers scored in double figures to lead the top-seeded Sacred Heart women's basketball team to an 83-55 win over eighth-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson in the William H. Pitt Center Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers run their winning streak to 13-straight at home and are now 24-4 overall as they advance in the Northeast Conference Tournament.
Sacred Heart's Nicolle Rubino (Port Jefferson Station, NY) had the hot-hand early on, scoring the Pioneer's first eight points of the game. SHU batteled through some sluggish play in the opening minutes. The Pioneers never trailed but FDU pulled to within six, 16-10, at the nine minute mark.
After turning the ball over 14 times in 15 minutes of play, the Pioneer offense kicked in to high gear over the final five minutes. Leading 26-18, SHU rattled off a 13-3 run to close the half and take control heading into the break. Three-straight lay-ups from Jasmine Walker (Amityville, NY) closed the half with the Pioneers leading 39-21.
The second half was all Sacred Heart as the lead ballooned to 29 in the first 4:10 with Walker starting and ending a 13-2 run with a pair of lay-ins. SHU's lead peaked at 30 and never fell below 24 en route to the 83-55.
"We showed a great mental toughness getting through the first half," stated head coach Ed Swanson. "Our energy on defense was so important and is what carried us through."
Rubino led all scorers with a game-high 19 points, marking a career-high in NEC Tournament play for the senior. She added three assists and a pair of steals to her totals. Freshman Kaitlin Sowinski (Hopkinton, RI) scored a career-high 16 points, shooting seven-of-12 from the field.
"Our goal was to come out with a strong first five minutes and knock them back on their heels," commented Rubino. "I hit some shots early and we were able to battle through some turnovers to take control of the game."
Junior Amanda Pape (Stamford, CT), the 2006 NEC Player of the Year, finished with 13 to go along with five rebounds, four steals and three assists. Walker and Mary Rush (Waterbury, CT) round out the players in double figures with 10 points apiece while Walker notched a double-double with 10 boards.
The Pioneers, who turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, took much better care of the basketball in the second half with just two miscues. SHU shot 44.1% (26-59) from the field and had 20 assists as a team.
The Knights finish the season with a record of 10-18 after the loss. Senior Krissy Suckow scored a team-high 11 for FDU who struggled shooting, hitting just 28.1% (16-57). The Knights turned the ball over 29 times in the loss, leading to 28 Sacred Heart points.
Sacred Heart moves on to the Semifinals on Tuesday night, game time is slated for 7 p.m. at the Pitt Center. SHU's opponent is yet to be determined, log onto www.SacredHeartPioneers.com or www.NortheastConference.org for complete tournament information.