December 17, 2005

Pioneers Pull Off Big Second Half Comeback to Win 79-78 at Iona

Dec. 17, 2005

Final Stats

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (December 17, 2005) - Sacred Heart junior co-captain Kerri Burke (Saugus, MA) sank the game winning free throw with 10 seconds on the clock to give the Pioneers an 18-point come from behind 79-78 win at Iona College Saturday night. Fellow captain Nicolle Rubino (Port Jefferson Station, NY) led the way with a career-high 27 points, 19 in the second half, to lead the Pioneers to their fifth-straight win.

Both teams played well in the early going, with the Gaels pounding the ball inside and the Pioneers shooting well on the perimeter. Rubino stepped out and hit a three on SHU's first possession and a pair of Amanda Pape (Stamford, CT) jumpers gave the Pioneers an early 9-4 lead.

At 15-14 Sacred Heart, a Burke three-point play and Rubino three gave the Pioneers a 21-14 lead, their biggest of the game with 12:26 on the clock. But that was where the wheels temporarily came off the SHU offensive wagon. The Pioneers led 24-19 with 8:19 left when their shooters went stone cold, missing eight straight shots over a 7:24 stretch.

The Gaels took full advantage, pounding the ball inside and outscoring SHU 17-2 over the rest of the half to lead by ten at the break, 36-26. Jessica Anger led the way with nine points for Iona while the Gaels outscored SHU 16-8 in the paint and held the rebounding advantage, 27-19.

Iona's lead jumped quickly to 42-26 just 1:30 into the second half but a Rubino three, her first of three in the half, halted the quick Gael jaunt. As quickly as Rubino's three hit the bottom of the net the Iona lead was right back to 16 on a three by Melissa Yeagley and a pair of Tiara Headen free throws with 17:08 on the clock gave the Gaels their largest lead at 18, 47-29.

Sacred Heart head coach Ed Swanson turned to his bench for a spark and he got just that in the form of freshman Rachel Hudec (Staten Island, NY). The freshman point guard buried her first of three huge long range bombs at 16:13 that spurred a 14-6 run over the next two and a half minutes to get the Pioneer's to within 10.

The Pioneers cut the lead to eight with just over 11 minutes left but Iona responded once again going inside to get the lead to 13, 61-48, with 9:15 on the clock. SHU kicked the pressure up on offense with a pair of Jasmine Walker (Amityville, NY) free throws, a lay-up by Liz Gruber (Staten Island, NY) and a three by Burke to get within seven at the eight minute mark.

Following the media timeout, Iona's Regan Pettijohn buried a jumper from the baseline to halt the mini-run. The Pioneer's would not be denied as Gruber buried a three and Burke converted a lay-up after a steal to get within four, 64-60, with six minutes to play. Iona had an answer once again, using their inside game to build the lead back to eight, 68-60 but a 10-2 run fueled by a Rubino jumper tied the game at 70-70 with 2:30 on the clock.

Iona jumped in front twice by two but SHU would answer each time and the game sat at 74-74 with a minute to play. Iona's Toni Horvath was fouled and hit one of two shots to give the Gael's a one point lead with 53 seconds. A Pape lay-up followed by a Rubino jumper gave SHU a three-point lead with 34 ticks left, 78-75. Iona forced the ball inside and Martina Weber converted the lay-up, drew the foul and buried the free throw with 25 second left to tie the game for the fourth time in the final two minutes.

The Pioneers took a timeout to set up their final play and the ball went to Burke off the inbounds. Iona tried to double team Burke on the sideline but the junior floor general was able to just get around the oncoming Horvath and was able to draw the blocking foul. With Iona in the double bonus, Burke went to the line for two shots with 10 second left and a chance to give SHU the lead. Burke missed the first but calmly stepped up and buried the second to give the Pioneers a one-point 79-78 lead.

Iona raced up the court and tried to feed the ball into the foul line. Rubino, who had a career offensive night, made the biggest defense play for Sacred Heart, coming around from the back side and knocking the ball lose toward half court as time ticked away and the Pioneers escaped with a huge comeback victory.

Rubino finished the night 11-of-17 and five-of-seven from three to lead a Pioneer team that shot 50.0% (30-60) for the second straight game. Pape finished with 16 points, six rebounds and two steals and is now just five points away from breaking the 1,000 career point barrier. Walker had 10 points and six rebounds to go along with four steals.

The Pioneers 10 three's , eight in the second half, mark the first time since 2003 that SHU has hit double digit three-point makes in a game as a team (UMBC, 11, 2/24/03).

Iona got 19 points off the bench from Weber and 17 from Anger, both leading the Gael's powerful inside attack. Iona outscored SHU 38-22 in the paint, scoring 18 second chance points and holding a 42-35 rebounding advantage. Yeagley was also in double figures for Iona scoring 11.

SHU, now 6-1 on the year, will try and make it six-straight this coming Tuesday night when they take on nationally ranked Ohio State in Columbus, OH.