No. 4 Pioneers Meet Top-Seeded Saint Francis U In Today's NEC Semis

No. 4 Pioneers Meet Top-Seeded Saint Francis U In Today's NEC Semis

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LORETTO, Pa. – No. 4 Sacred Heart University women's basketball (14-16, 9-9 NEC) put no. 5 Bryant away in Wednesday's semifinal, and will advance to an NEC semifinal round also featuring no. 1 Saint Francis U (22-9, 16-2 NEC) at DeGol Arena Thursday evening.

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Last year's regular-season finale for both teams ended with the Red Flash severing a five-game drought against SHU. The first 2016-17 meeting between the two clubs saw the Pioneers coming out on top. SHU leads 24-13 throughout the two teams shared history. The two teams split outcomes during the regular season.

No. 4 SHU vs. No. 5 Bryant (Quarterfinals)…

SHU avenged not only a pair of regular season setbacks but a 2016-17 semifinals loss to no. 5 Bryant as the Pioneers took down the Bulldogs, 80-63, Wednesday evening at DeGol Arena in the NEC Quarterfinal. Five Pioneers-Candice Leatherwood (20 pts), Katherine Haines (17 pts), Tykera Carter (16 pts), Adrianne Hagood (13 pts), Abigail Kangudie (11 rbs)-reached double-figures landing four in the double-digit scoring column.

Bryant held a lead, up three midway through the first quarter on the backend of a bucket from behind the arc to the credit of Kierra Palmer. However, senior guard Carter provided the answer to plateau the score at 12-up at the 4:24 mark.

Leatherwood used her quickness to get straight to the rack absorbing the contact for the tough finish and completed the three-point play to place the Pioneers in the forefront permanently.

No. 1 Saint Francis U vs. No. 8 Fairleigh Dickinson (Quarterfinals)…

Jessica Kovatch set a Saint Francis and NEC record with 11 threes and scored 39 points as Saint Francis advanced to the Northeast Conference quarterfinal with an 89-70 win over Fairleigh Dickinson in Wednesday night's quarterfinal at DeGol Arena.

Kovatch hit her first six threes of the night, all in the first quarter as the Red Flash rolled off a 31-2 run between the first and second quarters to put the game away.

No. 1 Saint Francis U…

SFU has won 13 of its last 14 games, with SHU interrupting their streak back in mid-February. SHU stunned then-top-seeded Saint Francis U on the Red Flash's home-court edging the foe by one. On the frontend of the two teams shared meetings, the Pioneers fell 89-48, to roll out their season.

After matching records with Robert Morris to close the season, the Red Flash were granted the one seed topping the Colonials with a better NCAA RPI. The Red Flash's first assignment was No. 8 Fairleigh Dickinson prior to the SHU/Bryant contest in which the hosts reigned victorious, 89-70.

Jessica Kovatch spearheads the Red Flash offense pouring 24 points each outing for 719 registered in the season.

Earlier this season…

On December 29, 2017, despite their arduous fight on the glass and punishing their opponent at the line, the SHU struggled to hit shots in the half-court. That was markedly different for Saint Francis U as the Red Flash's stifling shot-selection overpowered the Pioneers, 89-48, Friday afternoon inside the Pitt Center to commence NEC play.

The NEC's leading point-getter, Jessica Kovatch, splashed a long jumper to open scoring by either team nearly five minutes into the contest. Less than a minute later, Tykera Carter saw her first free-throw go in and out before her second attempt made it a one-point game early, 2-1. At the 4:42 mark Katherine Haines' swished two tries at the charity stripe to put the hosts up one fresh out of a media timeout, 3-2.

SFU's Caitlyn Kroll cashed in on her nifty scoop to the cup at 4:14 prior to Adrianne Hagood crediting her first and second point of her team-leading 18, 5-4. On the following live possession, Ace Harrison saw an opening down low as her go-ahead basket would tap the final lead change by either team.

Jenna Mastellone netted the 11th and last three-pointer on the Red Flash's behalf mounting the team's largest lead of the afternoon up 44 at 1:16 in the fourth before the Pioneers favored a 5-2 run to settle the 89-48 final.

On February 17, 2018, SHU gutted out a crucial win in dramatic fashion knocking off the NEC's leader, Saint Francis U, 69-68, Saturday afternoon inside DeGol Arena. The win marks the 75th career victory for Head Coach Jessica Mannetti and tabs the longest win streak for the Pioneers this season.

After going up by as many as 14 points, six ticks behind the intermission, an SFU 6-0 run to start the third quarter brought the game back within single digits with 7:18 pictured on the clock.

Olivia Dabney drilled an outside dagger by the direction of Erin Storck several possessions after to expand its lead back to nine-the largest for the remainder of the game, 48-39 midway through the third window.

The hosts remained stubborn clawing its way back evening the playing field twice in the onset before trailing just one before the final period commenced.

Allyson Murphy and Adrianne Hagood both provided go-ahead baskets but Hagood's would prove the winner as the freshman's nifty scoop made way for the one-point edge, 63-62 with 5:03 left in regulation.

The Red Flash continued to answer nearly filling its deficit, leaving all but one point to separate the two teams, 69-68 with less than a minute to play.

Using the clock, Leatherwood was the ball-handler stalling at the top of the key. Once ready to execute a play, Caitlin Kroll blocked the guard's path giving SHU a fresh 30 to try again (0:36).

Leatherwood repeated the same game plan and with ten seconds to go, was on the move. Unfortunately, the guard drove right into a trap committing a near costly turnover allowing SFU some light. 

Out of the hosts' timeout, Kroll tried a heave from the left baseline that was too strong and Leah Morrow's put-back was off the mark as time expired icing SHU with the victory.