Feb. 24, 2010
Sacred Heart Pioneers (18-9, 11-5 NEC) vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (9-18, 5-11 NEC)
Game #28 - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 5:30 pm Fairfield, Conn. - William H. Pitt Center (2,100)
Radio: www.SacredHeartPioneers.com Multimedia: Gametracker; Live Video
The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers return home looking to end a four-game Northeast Conference slide hosting Fairleigh Dickinson on Senior Night. The Pioneers will honor their lone senior, forward Lindsey Gibson, before tip-off Thursday night. Sacred Heart is currently all alone in third place with an 11-5 NEC mark, a game behind Long Island in second and a game up on Monmouth in fourth. The regular season comes to a close this week as the Pioneers make their final push for playoff positioning facing the Knights at home and heading to Monmouth on Saturday. FDU is still in the mix for one of the final tournament berths, sitting a back of the eighth spot with a 5-11 record.
Series... Sacred Heart leads the all-time series, 17-1 and has won 13-straight over the Knights. The Pioneers took the first meeting this season, winning 64-48 on the road. Fairleigh Dickinson’s lone win in the series came during the 2001-02 campaign when they posted a 64-60 win in the Rothman Center. The two teams have met once in the post season, an 83-55 Pioneer win in the opening round of the 2005-06 NEC Tournament. SHU is 9-0 at home against the Knights and 8-1 in Teaneck, NJ.
SHU in the Northeast Conference... Sacred Heart is in its 11th season of play in the Northeast Conference. The Pioneers have posted a 138-42 conference record in their 10 years, having never finished lower then tied for third in the final league standings. 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. Head Coach Swanson is the leader in all-time NEC wins at 138 victories.
The Coaches... Ed Swanson (SHU ‘89) is in his 20th season as head coach at his alma mater. Swanson posts a 340-230 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 214-111 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 (340). He has been named the NEC Coach of the Year three times and is the all-time leader in regular season NEC wins (149). Peter Cinella (Western New England ‘90) is in his third season on the Fairleigh Dickinson bench. He has led the Knights to a 32-55 record over his three years. Cinella came to FDU after 14 years at American International College where he was the winningest coach in that program’s history and led the school to nine NCAA Tournaments, two trips to the Elite Eight and an appearance in the 2006 NCAA Championship game.
Scouting the Knights... The Fairleigh Dickinson Knights come in at 5-11 and are still in the hunt for a playoff spot heading into the final week of the season. FDU is 5-11 and trails Mount St. Mary’s and Wagner by a game for a spot in the tournament field. The Knights own the tie breaker over both teams thanks to wins in their only meetings. FDU is tied with 5-11 Quinnipiac for 10th and close the regular season taking on the Bobcats on Saturday. The Knights are led by the Northeast Conference’s leading scorer in sophomore Mariyah Laury who is averaging 17.7 points per game.
Last Meeting with Fairleigh Dickinson... Sacred Heart sophomore Callan Taylor finished with 18 points and junior Alisa Apo netted 16 as the Pioneers posted a 64-48 win at Fairleigh Dickinson on December 5th. SHU opened the game 7-0 with a Maggie Cosgrove three and a pair of jumpers from Taylor and Kiley Evans, forcing a Knight time-out. With SHU up 9-2, FDU pulled even on an Alannah Driscoll-Sbar lay-up just over four minutes in and Jenna Strich gave her team a 12-9 lead capping a 10-0 run with a three at 14:31. SHU took the lead back and pushed it to double digits, 26-15, with an 11-2 spurt over the next five minutes. Taylor fueled Sacred Heart with 12 of her 18 in the first half as SHU closed the opening stanza with three-straight lay-ups and a free throw for a 35-19 halftime advantage. Fairleigh Dickinson looked to fight their way back, pulling within 13, 42-29, on back-to-back three’s by Alyssa Mayrose but that would be as close as the Knights would come on the day. The Pioneers put the game away over the next five minutes, running their lead to 57-31 on a game-clinching 15-2 run, capped by a pair of Cosgrove three’s. The Pioneers shot 46.3% (25-54) from the field and 42.9% (6-14) from behind the arc. Cosgrove hit four-of-five from downtown on the way to a 12 point afternoon. Apo added five rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals to her 16 point line. Junior Maureen Reilly led the Pioneers off the bench with seven points and six boards. The Knights got 22 points from guard Mariyah Laury but where hurt by 36.3% (17-47) shooting and 22 turnovers. The Pioneers held a 24-16 scoring advantage in the paint and out rebounded the Knights 36-26.
Last Time Out... Sacred Heart got matching 20-point games from sophomore Callan Taylor and freshman Kiley Evans but couldn’t overcome a big Saint Francis (PA) second half as the Red Flash surged to a 75-69 win over the Pioneers last Saturday. The Red Flash scored 46 points and shot 54.8% (17-31) in the second half to deal the Pioneers their fourth-straight conference loss, a first in program history. The Pioneers shot out of the gates and took an early 12-3 lead as Maggie Cosgrove buried a three and Evans came up with a quick seven points. SHU pushed their lead to 18-6 on a Taylor put back forcing a Red Flash time out at 13:04. Taylor made her first four shots to give the Pioneers a 20-8 lead into the second media time out at 11:30. Saint Francis began to pull back into the game using a 13-0 run to pull within 24-22. SHU’s Alisa Apo (Freehold, NJ) halted the run with a cross-over pull-up jumper in the right corner and the Pioneers used a quick 5-0 spurt to take back control. Evans came up with a fast-break lay-up for a three-point play at 1:13 and the Pioneers went to the locker room up 34-29. Red Flash senior guard Brittney Hodges came out and buried a three to open the second half and a quick five point spurt tied the game at 34-34 just over a minute in. Hodges was the key to the Saint Francis comeback in the second half, scoring 17 of her team-high 25 points. SFPA took their first lead at 17:43, on a Quinessa Johnson free throw, 35-34, and with the game tied at 41-41 took the lead for good thanks to a 16-4 run over the next seven minutes. Taylor finished with her 14th double double of the season, scoring 25 points with 10 rebounds. Evans finished with 23 points and seven boards. Hodges 25 points came on nine-of-12 shooting and five-of-seven at the line. She added five rebounds and five assists.
Sacred Heart Senior Night... The Pioneers will honor their only graduating senior in forward Lindsey Gibson before tonight’s game. Gibson has appeared in 112 career games with 32 starts. She has 260 points, 329 rebounds, 115 assists, 95 steals and 33 blocks over her four year career. This season, Gibson has started 25 of 26 games and has posted career numbers averaging 4.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. She currently ranks 15th in among Northeast Conference leaders in steals with 39 on the season. She will graduate this spring with a degree in criminal justice.