Pioneers Host Blue Devils Thursday Night
Jan. 20, 2010
Sacred Heart Pioneers (13-4, 6-0 NEC) vs. Central Connecticut Blue Devils (5-11, 2-4 NEC)
Game #18 - Thursday, January 21, 2010 - 5:30 pm Fairfield, Conn. - William H. Pitt Center (2,100)
Radio: www.SacredHeartPioneers.com Multimedia: Gametracker; Live Video
The Storyline... Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut State hit the hardwood Thursday night in a return match-up of Saturday’s 54-49 Pioneer win. SHU has won 17-straight over the Blue Devils as they close out the season series. The Pioneers sit alone atop the Northeast Conference standings with a 6-0 mark, carrying a streak of 27-straight wins against conference opponents into Thursday night’s game. The streak includes 24-straight regular season wins as the Pioneers return home for two games this week. SHU has won 16-straight NEC games in the confines of the William H. Pitt Center.
Series... The Pioneers lead the all-time series, 23-8 after a 54-49 win last Saturday. Sacred Heart is 20-2 against the Blue Devils during the Division I era including 17-straight victories. The last Central victory came in 2001, 55-42, at home. They posted their other win in SHU’s inaugural D-I season, 1999-2000, 61-45, also in the Detrick Gymnasium. SHU is 10-0 at home in the Pitt Center and 9-2 on the road at Detrick Gym. The two teams met for the first time during the 1979-80 season.
SHU in the Northeast Conference... Sacred Heart is in its 11th season of play in the Northeast Conference and has posted a 144-42 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 144 victories.
The Coaches... Ed Swanson (SHU ‘89) is in his 20th season as head coach at his alma mater. Swanson posts a 335-225 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 209-105 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 (335). He has been named the NEC Coach of the Year three times and is the all-time leader in regular season NEC wins (144). Beryl Piper (CCSU ‘87) is in her third season on the bench at Central Connecticut State University and owns a 27-50 record. Before taking over at her alma mater, she spent 19 seasons as the head coach at New Britain High School where she guided the team to three state titles. Piper played both basketball and softball at CCSU and was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 1999.
Last Meeting with CCSU... The Sacred Heart Pioneers overcame their worst shooting performance of the season and held off a late Central Connecticut rally to come away 54-49 win over the Blue Devils in New Britain Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers shot just 33.9% (19-56) but got 15 points and 11 rebounds from Callan Taylor, her ninth double double of the season. Sacred Heart led by as many as 21 in both halves but had to hold back the Blue Devils who cut the lead down to just two points late. CCSU started the game in an offensive funk, going just over five minutes before their first basket, a Leanne Crockett lay-up, but SHU led just 7-2 despite the drought. Central continued to struggle offensively and the Pioneers ran out to a 14-2 lead at the second media time out. An Alexzandria Dowdy free throw was all the Blue Devils would manage over a span of just over 10 minutes as SHU went on to lead 20-3. Central was plagued all half by turnovers, committing 16 miscues, 14 over the span of SHU’s 20-3 opening run. With the Pioneers up 26-5, senior guard Emily Rose got Central on track with a jumper followed by a break-away lay-up off a steal. From there, the Blue Devils closed the half on an 11-2 run leaving the Pioneers up 28-16 at the break. Sacred Heart came out quick to start the second half and used an opening 13-4 run to build their lead back to 21 points, 41-20. Outside of four free throws, a Kiley Evans make at 11:30 would prove to be the Pioneers’ only field goal until a jumper by Alisa Apo at 2:17. In between, the Blue Devils would piece together a 19-3 run to pull within 46-44 with just over three minutes left. Dowdy, who had 15 of her game-high 16 points in the second half, pulled her team within a pair, 46-44, on a lay-up with 3:23 on the clock. Apo hit on a jumper from the wing followed by a lay-up drawing a foul on back-to-back possessions for a 51-44 lead with 1:32 left. She would miss the free throw to extend the lead but Central couldn’t capitalize and was forced to foul with under a minute left. Taylor would hit a pair from the line and Apo would make one of two to help keep Central at bay on the way to the win. Apo would join Taylor in double figures, scoring 12 points with five assists and five steals. The Pioneers turned 25 Central Connecticut turnovers in to 24 points at the other end as they won their 17th-straight over the Blue Devils, a streak that goes back to the 2000-01 season.