Jan. 6, 2010
Sacred Heart Pioneers (9-4, 2-0 NEC) vs. Wagner Seahawks (4-9, 1-1 NEC)
Game #14 - Thursday, January 7, 2010 - 5:30 pm Fairfield, Conn. - William H. Pitt Center (2,100)
Radio: www.SacredHeartPioneers.com Multimedia: Gametracker, Live Video
The Storyline... Sacred Heart is set to face the Wagner Seahawks Thursday night in the second of three Northeast Conference games at home this week. The Pioneers beat Monmouth on Monday, 60-45, and will close out this week’s home stand on Saturday hosting Mount St. Mary’s. The win lifted the Pioneers to 2-0 in the league this season and extended their winning streak to 23-straight over NEC foes. The Seahawks are coming off a thrilling 76-74 overtime win at Saint Francis (PA) on Monday night.
Series... The Pioneers lead the all-time series, 14-7. Sacred Heart has won nine-straight in the series after an 80-68 win at Wagner in the only meeting last season. The two schools met for the first time during the 1978-79 season and again in 1979-80 but it would be 19 years before the two schools would take to the hardwood again when Sacred Heart joined the Northeast Conference. The Seahawks and Pioneers have met once in the NEC Tournament with Wagner posting a 59-56 win in the first round of the 2000 playoffs at Monmouth.
SHU in the Northeast Conference... Sacred Heart is in its 11th season of play in the Northeast Conference and has posted a 140-42 conference record over that span. The Pioneers are coming off their second NEC Championship along with a 21-0 run through the league last season. SHU won their first championship during the 2005-06 season, running off a 26-5 record and 16-2 NEC mark. SHU has never finished lower then tied for third in the final league standings. Head Coach Swanson is the leader in all-time NEC wins at 140 victories.
The Coaches... Ed Swanson (SHU ‘89) is in his 20th season as head coach at his alma mater. Swanson posts a 331-225 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 205-105 record since joining the Division I ranks in 1999-00. Swanson was inducted in to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 and is the program’s longest tenured coach and all-time leader in coaching wins (331). He has been named the NEC Coach of the Year three times and is the all-time leader in regular season NEC wins (140). Gela Mikalauskas (Kean ‘77) is in her 16th season as the head coach at Wagner College. Mikalauskas has a 197-238 record in her 16 seasons at Wagner and overall. This is Mikalauskas second stint as head coach of the Seahawks. She was named the NEC Coach of the Year in 1989 and is a member of the Wagner Athletics Hall of Fame as she holds the most victories (197) in program history.
Scouting the Seahawks... The Wagner Seahawks come in at 4-9 and 1-1 in the NEC, fresh off a 76-74 overtime win at Saint Francis (PA) last time out. The win over the Red Flash was the Seahawks first on the road this season, snapping an eight-game losing streak away from home. Wagner junior guard Megan Mahoney, a transfer from Fordham who is now eligible, is averaging 17.5 points through her first four games in a Seahawk uniform. Junior forward Ashley Olsen is third in the NEC in rebounding, averaging 8.3 rebounds per game.
Last Meeting with Wagner... Sacred Heart guard Alisa Apo made 12-of-12 at the free throw line on her way to a game-high 24 points as the Pioneers came away with an 80-68 win at Wagner College on January 24, 2009. Senior center Kaitlin Sowinski notched her fifth double double of the year scoring 17 points with 13 rebounds along with four blocks. The Seahawks took their only lead of the day four minutes in at 7-6 before the Pioneers responded with a 16-3 run over the next six minutes of action fueled by a trio of Maggie Cosgrove three’s, including back-to-back at 10:41 and 10:11 to put SHU up 22-10 and force a Wagner time-out. SHU closed out the half with a 9-2 spurt to lead 39-25 at the break. The Pioneers burst out of the locker room and scored the second half’s first nine points. Senior Stephanie Ryan and Apo buried three’s and the Pioneer lead hit its high water mark at 23-points, 48-25, two and a half minutes in. The Sacred Heart lead never dipped below double digits in the second half but the Pioneers did need some steady shooting at the free throw line to overcome a long scoring drought and a pesky Wagner offense. Sowinski’s lay-in at the 7:49 mark was SHU’s only field goal until the 1:23 mark when the senior center hit again. In between, the Pioneers went to the free throw line 20 times and made 17, a feat that never allowed Wagner to get closer then down 11. Apo’s 12-for-12 afternoon at the line helped her overcome a five-for-14 shooting day as the sophomore guard also dished out seven assists and grabbed six rebounds. SHU’s Callan Taylor finished with 10 points and six rebounds before fouling out. Cosgrove finished with 16 points. The Pioneers finished the game shooting 41.2% (21-51) from the field and finished 29-of-36 at the free throw line, season-highs for makes and attempts.
Last Time Out... Sophomore Callan Taylor led four players in double figures with 16 points as Sacred Heart posted a 60-45 win over Monmouth Monday night. Defensively, the Pioneers forced 25 Hawk turnovers and held Monmouth to just 45 points, matching their season-low for points allowed in a game (45 - vs. Manhattan). SHU had 20 points off turnovers and shot 46.9% (23-49) from the field in the win. Senior forward Lindsey Gibson hit five-of-six from the field for a career high 10 points in the win. Monmouth’s Alysha Womack scored the game’s first three points for the Hawks but Sacred Heart used an 11-0 scoring run to take back the lead for good. SHU extended its lead to 15-7 after an Alexis Campbell jumper with 12:40 to go and used a MU scoring drought that lasted over eight minutes to push their lead to 23-15. The Pioneers led 28-18 at the half, paced by nine points from junior Alisa Apo. Sacred Heart’s lead dipped below double digits just once in the second half as Taylor scored 11 of her game-high 16 in the second stanza. The Hawks cut the lead to 30-22 in the opening minutes but back-to-back three’s from Taylor and junior Maggie Cosgrove pushed the Pioneer lead to 44-26 with 10 minutes to go. A pair of Taylor free throws and Cosgrove’s fourth three of the night pushed the SHU lead to its high water mark of 22, 60-38, with 3:18 left as the Pioneers cruised home with the win. Cosgrove finished four-of-six behind the arc on her way to 14 points while Apo finished with 12 on the night. The Hawks out rebounded the Pioneers, 37-28, but shot just 33.3% (16-48) in the loss.
Apo and Evans Sweep NEC Weekly Awards... Sacred Heart junior Alisa Apo and freshman Kiley Evans were named the Choice Hotels Northeast Conference Player and Rookie of the Week announced Monday. Apo averaged 19.7 points, 6.7 assists, and 4.7 rebounds over Sacred Heart’s final three non-conference games, shooting 48 percent (20-of-41) during the stretch. It is Apo’s second NEC Player of the Week award this season. Evans totaled 40 points during a pair of Pioneers’ victories that allowed Sacred Heart to finish its non-conference slate with a 7-4 record. In SHU’s three games since December 21, the freshman guard averaged 15.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.0 steals. Evans shot 45.9 percent (17-of-37) from the floor over the three-game span, including a 4-for-10 clip from downtown.