Dec. 12, 2009
Sacred Heart Pioneers (5-3, 1-0 NEC) vs. Fairfield Stags (5-1, 0-0 MAAC)
Game #9 - Sunday, December 13, 2009 - 1:30 pm - Bridgeport, Conn. - Arena at Harbor Yard (5,298)
Radio: WICC 600 am; SacredHeartPionners.com Multimedia: Live Stats
The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers and Fairfield Stags face-off in a meeting of cross-town rivals Sunday afternoon at the Arena at Harbor Yard. The Pioneers are looking to end a two-game Stag win streak since the series was renewed two seasons ago. SHU has fallen twice to Fairfield by a combined three points, losing 58-56 in 2007-08 and 59-58 in overtime last year. The Pioneers come in winners of two-straight and five of their last six after a 61-55 victory at Saint Peter's Wednesday night. Sacred Heart is 2-0 against MAAC teams this season.
Series... Fairfield leads the all-time series 9-4. The Stags have posted back-to-back wins over the past two seasons in the first meetings of the two schools on the Division I level. SHU and Fairfield met 11 times from 1974 through 1981 with the Stags holding a 7-4 edge during that stretch in the series. Fairfield won the first three meetings starting in 1974-75, Sacred Heart's first season of competition. The Pioneers got their first win in 1975-76, 64-51, and won again in 1977-78, 76-48. SHU took both meetings in 1978-79, winning 71-46 across town and 75-57 at home. Fairfield won the last two meetings, 83-55 in 1979-80 and 72-47 in 1980-81.
Pioneers vs. the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference... Since joining the Northeast Conference in 1999-2000, the Pioneers are 7-4 against teams from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Pioneers face Manhattan, Fairfield, Saint Peter's and Siena this season. SHU has faced Fairfield University more than any other team from the MAAC, trailing in the series, 9-4 but are 0-2 against the Stags as part of the MAAC. Sacred Heart is 3-0 against Saint Peter's and 2-0 against Rider. The Pioneers are 1-1 against Iona and Manhattan.
The Coaches... Ed Swanson (SHU `89) is in his 20th season as head coach at his alma mater. Swanson posts a 327-224 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 201-103 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 (327). He has been named the NEC Coach of the Year three times and is the all-time leader in regular season NEC wins (139). Joe Frager (Connecticut `84) is in his third season on the Fairfield bench and has led the Stags to a 45-23 record. Frager came to Fairfield after spending the previous nine years at Southern Connecticut State University where he led the Owls to the Division II National Championship and a school record 34 wins in 2007.
Scouting the Stags... The Fairfield Stags are off to a 5-1 start to their season and already own a pair of victories over Northeast Conference teams in St. Francis (NY), 62-46, and Mount St. Mary's, 68-54. Senior Stephanie Geehan leads the team averaging a double double at 15.7 points and 13.0 rebounds per game. She also adds 16 blocks to her totals. Desiree Pina and Katelyn Linney are also in double figures averaging 13.7 and 10.0 points, respectively. Linney is the Stags' top shooter behind the arc, knocking down 11-of-32 (.344) on the year. Defensively, the Stags are holding teams to just 49.3 points per game and 35.5% (120-338) shooting from the field on the season. Fairfield was picked to finish sixth in the MAAC Preseason Poll while Geehan was a Preseason All-MAAC second team pick.
Last Meeting with Fairfield... Fairfield's Stephanie Geehan buried her first three-point field goal of the season with one second left in overtime to lift the Stags to a 59-58 win over Sacred Heart last November 22nd, 2008. The Pioneers went up 58-56 with 11 seconds left in the extra session before Geehan hit from the left wing for the game winner. The Pioneers led by as many as seven points in the first half and had a six-point lead with just under four minutes to play in the second half but a 6-0 Fairfield run ended regulation sending the game to overtime. SHU twice had opportunities to expand on a two-point lead at the free throw line in the extra session but came up short on both occasions. SHU senior Kaitlin Sowinski led the Pioneers recording her first double double of the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds. With the game tied at 56-56 in overtime, Sacred Heart looked to Sowinski and the senior center delivered with a lay-in, drawing the foul and a chance at a three-point play with 11 ticks left. Her free throw missed the mark and the Stags raced up court with no time outs left to try and set up the last shot. Geehan came off a screen on the left wing and took a pass from Sarah Paulus, got a clean look and buried the game-winner. Senior Stephanie Ryan finished with 18 points on six-of-11 shooting while Alisa Apo came up with 11 points and four assists. The Pioneers shot just 35.5% (22-62) from the field and were out rebounded 47-37 on the glass. The Stags got 16 points from guard Desiree Pina and 14 from Baendu Lowenthal. Geehan finished with seven but hauled in a game-high 14 rebounds.
Last Time Out... Sacred Heart sophomore Callan Taylor poured in a career-high 32 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to lead the Pioneers to a 61-55 win at Saint Peter's College Wednesday night. Junior Alisa Apo chipped in with 16 points making nine-of-13 at the free throw line. Both teams turned the ball over 27 times and posted almost identical shooting nights. The Peahens hit 43.4% (21-53) while the Pioneers hit 43.5% (20-46). The difference came at the charity stripe where SHU hit 17-of-26. Taylor's double double effort was her fourth on the season, coming on 12-of-16 shooting and six-of-seven at the line. The Pioneers shot 50.0% (14-28) in the first half but turned the ball over 14 times, a season-high for a half. Taylor scored 15 of the Pioneers 31 points over the first 20 minutes of action. On the flip side, SPC turned it over 16 times but SHU took better advantage of the miscues, with 12 points off turnovers to the Peahens six. SHU closed the first half strong, with a 7-2 spurt over the last five minutes to take their biggest lead of the half at nine, 31-22, at the break. The Pioneers kept the Peahens at bay for much of the second half and pushed their lead to its high-water mark of 10, 52-42, with just over six minutes left. Saint Peter's refused to go quietly and quickly sliced the lead down to three, 52-49, three minutes later and again, with 27 seconds left, 57-54. Turnovers down the stretch continued to plague Saint Peter's and the Pioneers made nine-of-12 free throws down the stretch to put the game away. Saint Peter's got 18 points from Jynae Judson and 10 points from Alena Ali in the loss.