Dec. 30, 2007
FAIRFIELD, CT (December 30, 2007) - Sacred Heart junior center Kaitlin Sowinski (Hopkinton, RI) broke a 61-61 tie with nine seconds left on the clock hitting a free throw for her career-high 31st point and notched her seventh blocked shot in the closing seconds to preserve a 62-61 win over the Columbia Lions Saturday afternoon. Sowinski's career-high 31 points came on 13-of-22 shooting, making her just the second SHU player in Division I history to hit the 30-point plateau as the Pioneers end the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 7-6 overall mark.
A back and forth first half saw nine ties with neither team opening more then a four-point advantage. Sowinski carried the Pioneers over the first 20 minutes of action, pouring in 19 points, hitting eight-of-12 from the floor and all three of her attempts at the free throw line. No other Pioneer managed more then three points in the half as Sacred Heart held onto a slim two-point lead at the break, 28-26.
Where Sowinski did much of her damage in the first half, SHU junior Stephanie Ryan (Coram, NY) exploded in the second half, scoring 12 of her 14 points in the stanza. Ryan buried a three out of the break and Sowinski followed with a lay-in to extend the lead to 33-26. The Lions whittled that lead down to one, 37-36, by the 14:55 mark but Ryan helped lead a 9-0 run that gave SHU its biggest lead of the day at 46-36. The junior guard got it started with a drive to the hoop at 14:41 and finished it off with a three-point play at the 12:14 mark.
Columbia (2-10) refused to let the game get away and answered SHU's double digit lead with a 10-4 spurt of their own to pull within two with 8:39 showing. Chelsea Frazier capped the rally with a pair of lay-ins pulling her team to within 50-48. The Lions made it all the way back just over two minutes later as a Michele Gage three tied the game for the 10th time at 55-55.
The Pioneers (7-6) quickly pushed it back to four on Khalia Cain (Manchester, CT) and Sowinski makes but Frazier scored again in the lane at 3:48 to cut it back to two. SHU went to their 6-4 center again and Sowinski answered, taking a perfect feed from senior Lisa Moray (Hopewell Junction, NY) and banking it in for her 30th point of the afternoon and another four-point advantage.
It looked like SHU may let another tight one get away in the closing minutes as Danielle Brown and Gage made a pair of free throws on Columbia's next two possessions to knot the game at 61-61 with 24 seconds left. The Pioneers had the chance to hold for the last shot and did so, going back inside to Sowinski who drew a foul on Frazier with nine ticks left. Sowinski promptly buried the first for a 62-61 lead but missed the second as the Lions corralled the rebound. Columbia's Brown looked to heave a desperation shot with two seconds left but Sowinski was there to swat it away, sealing the win for the Pioneers.
The Pioneers shot 41.8% (23-55) in the win but hit just one-of-eight from behind the arc (12.5%). Ryan finished with her second-straight double double and her fourth this season, adding 10 rebounds to her 14 points. She also made three steals and passes out four assists in the win.
Sowinski's 31 points was the first 30-point effort since Amanda Pape hit the mark last season with 32 against Saint Francis (PA). Pape scored over 30 twice in her career and the two are the only Pioneers reach the mark on the Division I level. The junior center added seven rebounds and tied her season-high with seven blocks in the win.
The Lions were led by Gage who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Lauren Dwyer added 14 while Frazier finished with 13 in the loss. The Lions held a 42-30 advantage on the glass.
Sacred Heart will now return to Northeast Conference play full-time in one week as they play host to Wagner College next Saturday, January 5th at 2:00 pm.