LORETTO, Pa. – Off to their best start to conference play since 2011-12, the Sacred Heart women's basketball team hits the road for a huge two-game slate starting with a Saturday afternoon matchup against the defending NEC Champion St. Francis U at 4:00 PM. The last time these two teams met in the regular season in Loretto, the Pioneers scored a thrilling 69-68 upset win over the Red Flash, becoming one of just two teams to defeat SFU in their home gym all last season.
- Sacred Heart looks to continue its six-game NEC winning streak after a short break as the Pioneers embark on their longest trip of the season, first taking on St. Francis U on Saturday
- SHU leads the all-time series 23-14 and were one of just two teams to defeat the Red Flash in NEC play last season (69-68 road win in Loretto)
- Katherine Haines received her second consecutive NEC Player of the Week honor on Tuesday, coming on the heels of a week that included the first triple-double in program history on Saturday while she became the 20th player in program history to score 1,000 career points on Monday
- Haines now leads all NEC players with four Player of the Week awards in 2018-19 and is the first player all season to win the honor in back-to-back weeks
- The Pioneers are undefeated at 6-0 in NEC play for the first time since the 2011-12 season that saw Sacred Heart go 25-8 overall and 15-3 in league play on their way to winning the 2012 NEC Championship
ANOTHER FEATHER IN THE CAP
After recording the program's first-ever triple-double in Saturday's win at St. Francis Brooklyn, grad student Katherine Haines etched her name in the record books again and became the 20th player in program history and the 13th in Sacred Heart's Division I era (since 1999-2000) to score 1000 career points. Needing 16 points to join the 1000-point club, Haines finished with 19 on the afternoon, going 8-for-14 from the floor as she now stands with 1,0003 career points.
PLAYING HER WAY TO THE TOP
Katherine Haines earned her second consecutive NEC Player of the Week honor on Tuesday. The honor comes on the heels of Haines posting the first triple-double in program history and becoming the 20th player in program history to eclipse 1,000 career points. Haines' second straight Player of the Week honor makes her the first player in the NEC to earn back-to-back Player of the Week awards this season. This announcement now gives Haines four NEC Player of the Week awards in 2018-19, giving her the most of any player in the conference with seven weeks of the regular season remaining. The next-closest is Jess Kovatch (SFU) and Sydney Holloway (BRY) with two each.
LEATHERWOOD LETHAL FROM THREE
Candice Leatherwood led the way for the Pioneers in their most-recent win over Wagner as she pumped in a game-high 20 points while going 4-for-6 from behind the three-point arc. It was her third time scoring 20-plus points this season including the second time over the last four games. She also continues to distribute the ball well, dishing out five assists against just two turnovers as she owns a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in all six NEC games thus far in 2018-19.
BUT FIRST…WE TAKE THE LEAD
Sacred Heart has outscored the opposition in the first half of all six NEC games (SHU 162-128 combined score advantage) this season. For the season, the Pioneers are 10-1 in games Sacred Heart leads at halftime.
OFF TO A HOT START
- The Pioneers 10-7 overall start to the season and 6-0 start in NEC play is the best start for the Pioneers since the 2011-12 season when the Pioneers went 25-8 overall and went 15-3 in NEC play
- That year, the Pioneers won the 2012 Northeast Conference Championship and competed in the first round of the NCAA tournament where they fell to top ranked Georgia Tech
DOMINATING THE SEAHAWKS
- The 72-64 win over Wagner on Monday marked the 11th straight win for Sacred Heart over the Seahawks (last loss 79-70 at Wagner 1/13/14)
- The Pioneers upped their home winning streak against the Seahawks to 17 straight games
- The only defeat SHU suffered to Wagner at home came in a 74-44 loss to the Seahawks on Jan. 18, 2000 which was the Pioneers' first season at the Div. I level
CLIMBING THE CHARTS
- Since the start of NEC play, Katherine Haines ranks second in conference-only games in scoring (20.5 PPG), third in rebounding (10.2), seventh in field goal percentage (51.1), eighth in free throw percentage (82.4) and first in blocked shots (3.3)
- Sophomore Adrianne Hagood has shined in NEC-only games as she sits seventh in the league in scoring (15.6 PPG) while shooting 42.2 percent from the floor and 41.2 percent from three (seventh in NEC)
- The Pioneers are the only team in the league that have two players ranked in the Top 10 in scoring in conference-only games (Haines 20.5, Hagood 15.6)
- Solid all-around, the only major statistical category that the Pioneers rank worse than sixth in conference-only games in is steals per game
- Protecting the ball is also a huge key to the team success for SHU as the Pioneers rank first in conference-only action in assist/turnover ratio (+1.3, 96 assists : 74 turnovers)
LIFE IN THE FASTBREAK
The Pioneers this year are currently averaging 8.4 points a game on fast break opportunities. In the first three games to kick off NEC play, the Pioneers scored double digit fast break points in each of those games.
HAINES TRIPLE-DOUBLE POWERS PIONEERS PAST SAINT FRANCIS BROOKLYN 68-66
- SHU earned its fifth Northeast Conference victory last Saturday as the Pioneers prevailed in the final seconds over St. Francis Brooklyn by a final score of 68-66.
- Katherine Haines led the Pioneers, tallying the program's first triple-double as she registered 25 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high 11 blocks. Haines' 11 blocks tied the program-record and set the program-record for most blocks in program-history in the Div. I era.
DISHING THE BALL TO DABNEY
- Sophomore Olivia Dabney scored a career high 13 points in the 80-68 victory over Wagner. Dabney went 3-6 from the filed while going 3-4 from beyond the arc. She also went 4-4 from the free throw line.
- In the past six games since the Pioneers opened up conference play, Dabney averaged 7.2 points a game and went back to back in double digit games first against Wagner tallying 13 while the second coming against Bryant as she went for 10 points
SCOUTING THE RED FLASH
- Saint Francis U comes in with a mark of 6-12 overall and 3-3 in NEC play
- SFU won their 12th NEC Championship last season and were picked to finish second in the 2018-19 NEC Preseason Poll
- However, recently the Red Flash have suffered from a series of losses as SFU comes into Saturday having lost three straight in NEC play after starting 3-0 in conference action
- The Red Flash already have more losses in conference play (three) in 2018-19 than they had all of last season (16-2 in NEC)
- Star senior guard Jess Kovatch leads the Red Flash and the NEC in total points with 377 while averaging 20.9 points per game
- Kovatch is the reigning NEC Player of the Year while her career accolades include the all-time leading scorer in school and NEC history, one of three players in NCAA history to net 400 three-pointers (comes in with 416 made triples), active career leading scorer in the NCAA (2535 points) and she set an NCAA single-season record with 141 made three-pointers in 2017-18
- Despite the lofty per-game average, Kovatch is averaging her fewest PPG since her 2015-16 freshman season (finished averaging 20.9 PPG)
- She is also coming off her second-lowest scoring output of the season as she put up just 14 points in a loss at Bryant on Monday
- That 14-point effort is just her fifth time this season (18 games) scoring less than 20 points while also standing as the first time she failed to reach the 20-point mark since Dec. 5 against Florida Gulf Coast (nine-game streak)
- Karson Swagger is the lone other Red Flash to average double figures in scoring as she comes in with 10.2 PPG
- Three-point shooting is the leading source of the SFU offense as nearly half of the team's made field goals (180 of 432 total makes) have come from beyond the three-point line
- In terms of scoring offense, the Red Flash sit second in the conference in points per game (69.8) but last in scoring defense (80.2) but a wide margin (next-closest team allows 72.4 per game)