Pioneers and Blue Devils Face-off in NEC Tournament Saturday Night
March 4, 2010
#3 Sacred Heart Pioneers (19-10) vs. #6 Central CT State Blue Devils (11-17)
Game #30 - Saturday, March 6, 2010 - 8:00 pm Loretto, Pa. - Maurice Stokes Athletic Center - DeGol Arena (3,500)
Radio: www.SacredHeartPioneers.com Multimedia: NortheastConference.TV Webcast
The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers are the #3 seed in the 2010 Northeast Conference Tournament and will face the #6 seed Central Connecticut State Blue Devils in the opening round Saturday night. SHU heads to Saint Francis (PA) for the first two rounds of this year’s tournament as the defending NEC Champion. The Pioneers and Blue Devils will meet for the 24th time as members of the NEC but for the first time in the postseason as they wrap-up day one of the tournament with an 8:00 pm tip-off. Sacred Heart enters the postseason having lost five of their last six games finishing the NEC slate with a 12-6 mark, their most losses in league play since the 2002-03 season. CCSU earned the sixth seed after posting an 8-10 mark in conference play. The winner moves on to face the winner of #2 Long Island and #7 Quinnipiac on Sunday afternoon at 4:00 pm.
Series... Sacred Heart is 20-3 against the Blue Devils during the Division I era after splitting the season series. CCSU snapped a 17-game Pioneer winning streak in the series with a 67-64 win at the Pitt Center in the last meeting. SHU is 10-1 at home in the Pitt Center and 10-2 on the road at Detrick Gym. The two teams met for the first time during the 1979-80 season and he Pioneers lead the all-time series, 23-9 dating back to both team’s Division II days.
The Coaches... Ed Swanson (SHU ‘89) is in his 20th season as head coach at his alma mater. Swanson posts a 341-231 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 215-112 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 (341). He has been named the NEC Coach of the Year three times and is the all-time leader in regular season NEC wins (150). Beryl Piper (CCSU ‘87) is in her third season on the bench at Central Connecticut State University and owns a 33-56 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 saw their streak of 27-straight NEC wins snapped on January 21st falling to Central Connecticut State, 67-64 at home. 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 but couldn’t overcome a 37.5% (24-64) shooting performance while also struggling 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 break for the first time in a conference game this season. The Pioneer lead sat at five, 25-20, with 3:30 on the clock 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. 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. Alisa Apo finished with 14 points, hitting five-of-18, and had five rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block. 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.