Sacred Heart Tips Off NEC Play Hosting Saint Francis U Friday

Sacred Heart Tips Off NEC Play Hosting Saint Francis U Friday

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FAIRFIED, Conn. – Friday could advocate for some high scoring action as the Northeast Conference's top two clubs in scoring offense will go head-to-head. The Sacred Heart women's basketball team (4-7) opens its doors to Saint Francis U (5-7) to initiate the league portion of its schedule, December 29 at 1:00 p.m. inside the Pitt Center.

Follow the action…

It's the most wonderful time of the year…

The Pioneers venture into Northeast Conference action beginning Friday at 1:00 p.m. when Saint Francis U invades the Pitt. The Red Flash's Pennsylvania conference mate, Robert Morris, will hit the road on the brinks of SFU's visit for a noon clash with Sacred Heart on Sunday.

A look into the future...

Sacred Heart and Saint Francis U are not timid scoring clubs as both squads top the conference in scoring offense. The Red Flash emit 77.3 points per game while the Pioneers get 65.5 points up on the scoreboard. However, the Pioneers are trumping the Red Flashing in scoring defense. While Sacred Heart allows its opponents to only tally 74.8 points, seventh-best, Saint Francis is permitting its opposition to score 82.6 points slotting the squad last in the league. This means SFU's margin of error is -5.2 with the Pioneers averaging a -9.3-scoring margin.

It happens…

Both the Pioneers and the Red Flash are looking to put their most recent outings behind them after falling by similar margins to wrap up its respective non-conference slates.

The Pioneers loss came at the hands of New Hampshire, 74-47. The 27-point setback came after New Hampshire swelled its lead to 40 recorded at the 1:06 mark of the third. Sacred Heart upstaged the Wildcats' fourth-quarter production scoring on the favorable side of a 21-10 margin. Unfortunately, SHU's effort went unheeded as the New Hampshire damage was already done.

Boise State crushed the Red Flash two Thursdays ago. The Broncos got hot in the second half en route to an 87-59 victory. Jessica Kovatch led all scorers with 26 points and moved into 9th place on SFU's all-time scoring list.

All-time series…

Last year's regular-season finale for both teams ended with the Red Flash severing a five-game drought against Sacred Heart. The first 2016-17 meeting between the two clubs saw Sacred Heart coming out on top. SHU leads 23-12 throughout the two teams shared history. Last February, Katherine Haines had her ninth double-double of the season with 13 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

NECk and NECk and NECk

LIU Brooklyn, Sacred Heart and St. Francis Brooklyn are mirroring 4-7 records prior to league play which is good for fourth-best in the NEC. Fairleigh Dickinson's Knights top the chart boasting an 8-3 non-conference clip while PA mates, RMU and SFU have earned a 7-4 and 5-7 record, respectively. Mount St. Mary's sits seventh toting a 3-8 clip while Wagner is slotted eighth crediting a 2-9 record. Bryant has won just one match (1-10) and the Pioneer's intrastate rival, Central Connecticut awaits its first dub (0-11) to round out the ratings.

conNECt the dots…

Well… it is going to be hard. The Pioneers and the Red Flash have not faced a common opponent in their respective non-conference slates.

So, here is where the connecting comes into play. Saint Francis U fell to Columbia University four games into a season, 94-81. Those same Lions beat Hofstra, 75-53, a team that took the Pioneers into two overtime periods before escaping with the "W." However, Columbia and Sacred Heart both topped Providence.

Yo, where you at?...

Erin Storck is at the fifth spot in scoring amongst her conference counterparts netting 14.3 points per contest just as St. Francis Brooklyn's Jade Johnson is. Tykera Carter's 12.5 points scored each time around puts her 12th in the NEC. Kovatch, a member of the Pioneers' Friday foe, is ahead of the pack as the only NEC player to average 20-plus points. Kovatch drops 20.3 points when she hits the hardwood.

That same backcourt tandem is slotted ninth and tenth, respectively in field goal percentage. Carter's 12.5 points best her teammate efficiency swishing 44.1-percent of her looks. Storck is witnessing 43.9-percent of her attempts add points for SHU. FDU's Madelynn Comly's 58.2-percent shooting rings superlative in the NEC.

Carter's 2.1 helpers a contest, 23 total, have her just .3 dimes out of the conference's top-10. The guard is 14th in the category.  Amy O'Neill hailing from St. Francis Brooklyn lends 4.7 assists per match to take top honors in the stat. 

66.7-percent of Adrianne Hagood's tries at the charity stripe are all net tying her with LIU Brooklyn's Drew Winter for the 11th seat in free throw percentage. Comly's 87.5-percent is the conference's best. 

The three-point rock is falling at a fourth-best 42.6-percent for Storck. Carter's deep range slots her tenth as she splashes 35.7-percent of her attempts. FDU student-athletes, Comly and Kamrin Weimer are shooting 45.8-percent and 44.8-percent, respectively, from downtown for the top two rankings.

Storck and Carter are in friendly competition as both players tie for eighth, along with LIU Brooklyn's Denisha Petty-Evans and CCSU's Morgan Johnson, with 1.8 three-pointers made each game. Both Pioneers have hit 20 treys. Kovatch nets 2.8 in each of her appearances for the most of any NEC representative. 

Abigail Kangudie's .7 rejections, six total, have tied her with RMU's Nneka Ezeigbo both eyeing the 13th spot. Sierra Clark from Wagner is stopping 2.2 shots a game to take bragging rights in the category.

Storck does not get tired playing the most of any NEC baller. The guard is performing for 36.5 minutes per game having played over 400 minutes this season. Carter is shining for 33.2 minutes as only four NEC players grace the court more.

Teamin' up…

Saint Francis bests Sacred Heart at the charity stripe as the Red Flash sink 70.9-percent of their tries. 63.6-percent of Sacred Heart's attempts at the charity stripe are falling. Mount St. Mary's the number one free-throw shooting NEC team netting 72.7-percent of those buckets.

Sacred Heart is the more efficient team netting 39.3-percent of its shots from the floor as the Pioneers are in the middle of the pack in the category. Saint Francis is seventh drilling 36.6-percent of its shots from the field. Defensively, SHU holds its fifth spot allowing 41.1-percent of shots to fall against it while Saint Francis is last tolerating 46.4-percent of its opponents attempts to swish.

Sacred Heart and Saint Francis U are seventh and ninth, respectively, in its productions from downtown. The Pioneers are a 30.5-percent team from behind the arc. The Red Flash can only get 25.2 percent of their shots to coast through the net. The Pioneers are containing the long-range attempts from its opponents by 32.2-percent. The Red Flash are watching 33.1-percent of three-pointers go beyond their reach.

Saint Francis U is first in rebounding grabbing 40.9-percent off the backboard. Sacred Heart is third fighting for 36.3-percent of balls. Both teams are nearly identical allowing their opposition to corral 46.3-percent and 46.2-percent of loose balls, respectively. 

The Red Flash are hosting 4.6 block parties a game while Sacred Heart earns 3.1 rejections a contest. Saint Francis U is first in the stat while the Pioneers are tied with Bryant at the fourth spot.

Play yo' part from the start…

Carter and Erin Storck are the only student-athletes to have started in each of the Pioneers' contests thus far. Jenna Silletti and Olivia Dabney are the only other Pioneers that have appeared in all of Sacred Heart's 2017-18 matchups to date registering six and four respective starts. Leatherwood started seven times carting eight features. Cleo Polyzou picked up the start in five contests she has competed in. Haines has participated in tip-off four times but has touched the hardwood three other times. Jayla Davis credited three starts of her five matches played. Hagood earned a pair of starts of the ten times she has battled opponents.

Off to a "fresh" start…

Dabney has been elected to start for the last four outings (Siena, Providence, Brown and New Hampshire) and now has the most starts by a freshman this season. She has one more start than Jayla Davis who premiered for the Pioneers against Harvard, Florida A&M, and Florida State. Adrianne Hagood joined the first five out against Hofstra and Lehigh following her career-day at Harvard.

Hound by the rebound…

Sacred Heart has only outrebounded its opponent twice this season edging Manhattan 41-39, and Florida A&M 48-42. Both efforts resulted in wins for the Pioneers.

Despite the outcome, both the Jaspers and the Rattlers still punished the Pioneers in arguably their weakest area. Though Sacred Heart outrebounded both clubs as a whole, Manhattan owned SHU on the offensive glass 16-9 as did FAMU, 13-12. The Pioneers have yet to grab more balls off of their own glass than their foes have. Sacred Heart has come the closest at Monmouth but both teams finished with nine apiece. 

Sacred Heart has been topped on the offensive glass to New Hampshire (9-5), Siena (17-6), Providence (11-4), Brown (19-3), Lehigh (14-10), Hofstra (14-4), Florida State (19-9) and Harvard (24-14) and has only claimed two wins amongst that cohort. SHU is behind a -7.1 margin on its glass and -9.9 on both backboards. 

Keepin' up with Carter…

Following a career-day on the front end of the Pioneers' two-game swing through the Sunshine State (20 points vs. Florida A&M), Carter only put up seven points against then-nationally regarded Florida State. When the Pride came to Fairfield, the guard reeled in 10 points to get back in double-figures. In a win over Lehigh, the guard upped her performance by one, earned 14 points versus Brown, added 16 points to Providence and most recently logged a team-high 18 points against Siena. However, the senior stumbled against New Hampshire putting up 12 points on 26.7-percent. 

Though the senior is shooting 44.1-percent for the season, in the six-game stretch, Carter is splashing 44.8-percent of her attempts (30-of-67). From three-point territory, the Alexandra, VA native is performing better in the last six games, 38.8-percent (14-of-36), contrasting her 35.7-percent clip for the year.


Scouting the Red Flash…

Saint Francis enters Friday being picked as the NEC's favorite pre-season team. Beginning conferencing play, the Red Flash are already 5-7 and are topping the charts in various statistical categories-scoring offense (77.3 avg/g), rebounding offense (40.9 avg/g), blocked shots (4.6 avg/g), assists (14.4 avg/g), offensive rebounds (16.3) and three-point field goals made (8.5 avg.g).

The Red Flash tote three players putting up double-figure scoring in the conference leader, Jessica Kovatch (20.3 ppg), Caitlyn Kroll (13.0 ppg) and Ace Harrison (13.0). Harrison and Kyasia Duling are nearly identical glass cleaners as they averaging 6.8 and 6.6 boards per game, respectively.

Saint Francis U has alternated outcomes in its last four having garnered wins against the University of Portland and Youngstown State but falling to Boise State and Gonzaga. The Red Flash endured a three-game skid, its longest of the year, collecting losses from Columbia, The College of William and Mary and Duquesne.