Jan. 22, 2010
Sacred Heart Pioneers (13-5, 6-1 NEC) vs. Bryant Bulldogs (7-11, 4-3 NEC)
Game #19 - Saturday, January 23, 2010 - 1:00 pm - Fairfield, Conn. - William H. Pitt Center (2,100)
Radio: www.SacredHeartPioneers.com Multimedia: Gametracker; Live Video
The Storyline... The Pioneers are looking to bounce back after seeing their 27-game Northeast Conference winning streak snapped Thursday night as they play host to the Bryant Bulldogs Saturday afternoon. Sacred Heart also fell for the first time in 16 games at home to a conference opponent after a 67-64 loss to Central Connecticut State last time out. SHU’s Callan Taylor posted her 10th double double of the season, 21 points and 10 rebounds, but the Pioneers allowed the Blue Devils to shoot 44.1% (26-59), a season-high for a NEC opponent this season. The Bulldogs come in having won three-straight, sweeping the season series with Quinnipiac along with a win over Yale. Series... Bryant leads the all-time series, 7-4. The Pioneers took the first meeting this season, beating the Bulldogs 76-64 on the road. The two teams renewed the series last year with the first meeting since the 1993-94 season, when both schools were in the Division II ranks. The Pioneers and Bulldogs met for the first time on February 2, 1981, a 71-63 Bryant win at SHU. The Bulldogs ran off four-straight wins before the Pioneers picked-up their first win in the series during the 1985-86 campaign 87-86 win at home.
SHU in the Northeast Conference... Sacred Heart is in its 11th season of play in the Northeast Conference and has posted a 144-43 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 335-226 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 209-107 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). Mary Burke (Providence ‘88) is in her 19th season on the Bryant bench as she leads the Bulldogs into the transition to the Division I ranks. Burke owns a 264-263 mark at Bryant and overall with four NCAA tournament appearances and an ECAC title on her resume.
Scouting the Bulldogs... The Bryant Bulldogs come to Fairfield Saturday afternoon fresh off a season-sweep of the Quinnipiac Bobcats. The Bulldogs posted a 72-62 win at home a week ago and won 67-42 on the road in Hamden Thursday night. In between, Bryant added a win over another Connecticut school, beating Yale at home, 69-62. Despite being ineligible for the postseason, the Bulldogs sit at 4-3 in the NEC and tied for fourth place in the conference standings. Senior forward Kelsey O’Keefe is the team’s leading scorer averaging 14.2 points per game, eighth among conference leaders. Junior forward Siamone Bennett averages 9.6 points and ranks 18th in the NEC in rebounding, averaging a team-best 6.2 boards per game. The Bulldogs are second in the league in rebounding (41.1 rpg) and are third in rebounding margin (+3.3)
Last Meeting with Bryant... Sacred Heart guard Maggie Cosgrove finished with 19 points, hitting five-of-six from behind the arc to lead the Pioneers to a 76-64 win at Bryant University last week. The Pioneers used a balanced offensive attack shooting a season-high 51.8% (29-56) while passing out 21 assists in win. After a slow start, the Pioneers opened up a 10-point lead, 21-11 by the midway point of the first half. SHU pushed their lead to 19 at the four minute mark, 36-17, thanks to a 13-4 run fueled by Cosgrove’s third three of the first half. The Bulldogs responded by ending the half on an 11-3 spurt to trail 39-28 at the break. Cosgrove finished with 11 points over the first 20 minutes of action. The Pioneers opened the second half with a 17-5 run with Alisa Apo scoring nine of her 13 points during the rally. Cosgrove’s fourth three put SHU up 57-33 five minutes in. Her fifth three gave the Pioneers their biggest lead of the night at 64-39 with 14:30 left. Cosgrove finished seven-of-12 from the field and matched her season-high with six assists against just one turnover. Apo dished out seven assists and had a pair of steals. Freshman Kiley Evans scored 14 points on six-of-nine shooting while senior Lindsey Gibson just missed her first career double double with 10 points and nine rebounds, both career best marks. The Bulldogs shot just 32.8% (20-61) but held the rebounding edge 38-34, coming up with 20 second chance points.
Last Time Out... The Sacred Heart Pioneers saw their streak of 27-straight NEC wins snapped Thursday night, falling to Central Connecticut State, 67-64. CCSU had four players in double figures led by Leanne Crockett who finished with 20 points hitting four-of-six from behind the arc. The Pioneers got 21 points and 10 rebounds from sophomore Callan Taylor, her 10th double double on the year, but couldn’t overcome a 37.5% (24-64) shooting night while allowing the Blue Devils to hit 44.1% (26-59), a season-high for a league opponent. SHU also struggled at the free throw line, hitting just 58.8% (10-17). Sacred Heart led for much of the first half but saw their lead erased in the closing minutes to trail at the half for the first time in a conference game since last season’s trip to Robert Morris (Feb. 12, 2009), a span of 15 games. The Pioneer lead sat at five, 25-20, with 3:30 to go before the half but CCSU caught fire and closed the half with a 7-2 run to lead 28-27. The Blue Devils shot 53.6% (15-28) in the second half and held off a late Pioneer push en route to a win that snapped a 17-game losing streak in the series between the two schools. Seven of the game’s 10 lead changes came over the final 20 minutes with Central Connecticut grabbing the lead for good with 5:27 to play. The Pioneers were able to take the lead back five times in the first seven and a half minutes of play, but could never pull in front by more than a basket. Central went up 60-56, with 3:53 to play while SHU tried to claw their way back. After a pair of defensive stops, the Pioneers went to the free throw line on consecutive possessions but managed to hit just two of the four, falling short of tying the game at 60-60. The Pioneers got a third-straight stop on the defensive end, but Alexzandria Dowdy came up with the big play for the Blue Devils, getting a steal and uncontested lay-up for a 62-58 lead with 1:36 left. After a pair of Taylor free throw’s pulled SHU back within two, Crockett hit her biggest shot of the night, burying a three from the right wing with a 46 seconds left to put her team up 65-60. The Pioneers worked their way to within three in the closing seconds and went to Taylor to try and tie it but her three missed the mark sealing the CCSU win. Taylor’s 21 points came on just eight-of-20 shooting and one-of-seven from three. Apo finished with 14 points, hitting five-of-18, and had five rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block. Junior Maggie Cosgrove finished with 11 points, three-of-four behind the arc, with three assists and three steals. Crockett just missed a double double for CCSU adding nine rebounds to her 20 points. Dowdy finished with 14 points with seven assists against just one turnover with three steals.
Sacred Heart Streaks Stopped... The Pioneers had their 27-game Northeast Conference streak snapped with the loss to Central on Thursday night. The Pioneers also owned a streak of 24-straight regular season NEC wins and 16-straight home wins against NEC foes end on Thursday. SHU’s streak of 27-straight ranks as the fourth longest streak in Northeast Conference history. They last loss to an NEC team falling to Monmouth in the opening round of the 2008 NEC Tournament, 75-70. Their last previous regular season loss in the NEC came in the 2007-08 season finale to Robert Morris, 66-52.