Pioneers Survive Monmouth, 50-46; Advance to NEC Title Game

March 6, 2007

Final Stats |  Quotes |  Notes

NEC SEMIFINAL

#3 Sacred Heart University 50, #5 Monmouth 46

FAIRFIELD, CT (March 6, 2007) - Senior forward Amanda Pape (Stamford, CT) sparked a furious second half comeback for #3 Sacred Heart University, leading a 17-4 run over the final five minutes to help the Pioneers defeat #5 Monmouth University, 50-46, in a semifinal of the Northeast Conference Women's Basketball Tournament Tuesday night. Pape led all scorers with 25 points, grabbed ten rebounds, had seven steals and three assists.

Brianne Edwards (Bloomfield, CT) got things started for the fifth-seeded Hawks by hitting the opening bucket of the game. Lindsey Zegowitz (Damascus, MD) gave Monmouth a 4-2 lead on the next trip down, but the Hawks made just one of their next eight shots and turned the ball over four times in a four-minute span.

With the score 12-8 in favor of the Pioneers with 9:58 left in the first half, Pape outscored Monmouth 12-5 by herself over the next six minutes to push the Pioneer advantage to 24-13 with 3:25 left. Sacred Heart took a 29-15 advantage into the intermission, holding Monmouth to just 7-27 from the field (25.9) and forcing 15 turnovers. Pape finished the half with 16 points, five rebounds, five steals and three assists.

Sacred Heart, 22-9, came out of the locker room cold and the Hawks took advantage. A three-point play by Veronica Randolph (Deerfield Beach, FL), followed by a steal and a basket Marisa Jiminez (Carteret, NJ) with 12:30 to play cut the Sacred Heart lead to five at 30-25.

Pape scored just the second point of the half for Sacred Heart with 12:12 left on a free throw. Randolph answered with a three with 11:50 to go to narrow the gap to 31-28. Another Pioneer turnover and lay-up by Edwards shaved it to a single point with 11:25 to go. The Hawks took the lead a 33-31 with a three-pointer with 10:48 left.

An Edwards three-point play gave Monmouth a 39-33 edge with 8:25 left. Jiminez put the Pioneers in a huge hole with 5:18 left with another three to give her team its biggest lead at 42-33.

Pape hit a couple of free throws with 4:55 left, and Moray was fouled on a rebound after a Hawk miss on the next trip. She made both with 4:31 to play to get her team back within five at 42-37. Kerrie Burke (Saugus, MA) was fouled on a drive to the basket with 3:36 left and made both free throws to put the Pioneers within three.

A Monmouth turnover and steal by Pape and a lay-up by Walker with 3:10 left made it 42-41. It was the first Pioneer field goal of the second half. Pape made another steal on the ensuing Monmouth possession. She was fouled intentionally going in for the breakaway lay-up with 2:43 to play. Pape made one of two free throws to tie the score but the Pioneers turned it over on the inbound pass. Moray banged a three after a Monmouth miss with just over two minutes to play to give SHU the lead back at 45-42.

With :42 left Jennifer Bender was fouled grabbing a rebound. She made one of two to get the Hawks within 45-43. Walker was fouled on the miss of the second shot and made one of two to get the lead back to three. Zegowitz missed a lay-up with less than 30 seconds to play. The Hawks fouled Pape, who calmly sunk both free throws to put the Pioneers up five.

Edwards nailed a trey for Monmouth with :10 remaining to make it a two-point game again. Edwards finished the game with 17 points. Pape was again fouled on the inbound pass and made both to put the Hawks away.

"One thing that matters is that we had more points than they did when the buzzer sounded," said SHU head coach Ed Swanson. "The kids kept persevering and they did a heck of a job fighting back. Playing Monmouth is an awful match-up for us and it's tough to get in our sort of rhythm."

Sacred Heart shot just 28 percent from the field (15-54), making just two field goals in the second half. The Pioneers also struggled from the line at 58 percent (18-31). SHU out rebounded the Hawks, 47-42, led by Jasmine Walker's 16.

"In the second half, we played harder," said Monmouth coach Michelle Baxter. "We are a fairly young team with just one senior and they were new to this. At halftime we went through some things."

"[Sacred Heart] always plays well at home and because of free throws and 1-and-1's we had chances but things didn't go our way," Baxter continued. "It's our fault for not finishing when we could've. We were in position to win, but we didn't get the job done."

Sacred Heart advances to play second-seeded Robert Morris in the Championship Game Saturday afternoon at 3:00 pm in Moon Township, PA.