SMITHFIELD, R.I. – After enjoying a season-long three-game homestand, the Sacred Heart women's basketball team takes its two-game win streak on the road for a season-long four-game road swing starting with a Saturday afternoon matchup against Bryant with tip-off scheduled for 3 PM.
The first meeting between these sides came down to the wire, as Katherine Haines buried a pair of free throws to give the Pioneers a one-point lead with nine seconds remaining. Erin Storck then proceeded to make the play of the game, blocking away Haley Connors' game-winning three-point attempt with one second left to secure a closely-contested 49-48 win in the Pitt Center.
- A second consecutive home win for the Pioneers, coupled with St. Francis Brooklyn's road loss at Wagner on Monday, made it just a two-way tie for second place in the NEC standings as SHU and Saint Francis U sit with identical 8-3 marks in the conference. Entering the halfway point of the regular season, playoff positioning is crucial as a top-two seed would earn a home playoff game in both the quarterfinal and semifinal round, if the Pioneers were to advance.
- SHU has dominated the all-time series against the Bulldogs, owning a mark of 16-6, but upon closer examination there has been a shift of-late as the Pioneers are only 2-3 over the last five meetings. Bryant swept the regular season series in 2017-18 and won an NEC semifinal meeting in the 2016 conference tournament in Fairfield.
- Candice Leatherwood is coming into her own over the past few games, as the redshirt senior is shooting 17-for-33 (51.5 percent) from three in that six-game span while averaging 14.7 PPG for the Pioneers. Leatherwood also dropped seven assists against just one turnover in the most-recent six-point win over FDU on Monday, as she owns a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in all but one of her 11 NEC games this season.
- After struggling from three-point range in three straight defeats between Jan. 26-Feb. 2 (19-for-69, 27.5 3FG%), the Pioneers have flipped a switch from deep as SHU has knocked down 24 three-pointers over the last two games (24-for-52, 46.2 3FG%). SHU set a new season-high with 13 triples in a 35-point domination of Mount St. Mary's last Saturday and knocked down 11 in a home win over FDU on Monday.
LAST TIME OUT (SHU 68, FDU 62)
- SHU owned a 58-40 advantage with 7:19 remaining but FDU rode a 19-4 run and trailed just 62-59 with 1:52 left
- Needing a lift on the offensive end, SHU put the ball in the hands of their two senior leaders as Candice Leatherwood hit a pullup jumper in the lane before finding Katherine Haines with a great pass to setup an easy layup that pushed the Pioneers' lead back up to seven
- The Pioneers benefitted from another great display from three-point range as SHU finished 11-for-26 (42.3 percent), one game removed from hitting a season-high 13 triples in a win over Mount St. Mary's
- Leatherwood led the way, finishing with 19 points (7-13 FG), seven assists and four rebounds in 34 minutes while Haines chipped in her ninth double-double of the season with 16 points (7-13 FG) and 10 rebounds in 37 minutes
ABOUT THE WIN OVER THE MOUNT
Several noteworthy statistics littered the box score from the Pioneers' 76-41 victory over Mount St. Mary's on Feb. 9th and among them included:
- All five Pioneer starters (Haines 19, Hagood 16, Leatherwood 12, Dabney 12, Storck 10) hit double figures, marking the first time since a 68-60 overtime win over FDU on Feb. 20, 2016 (56 games ago) that SHU saw five players score 10+ points in a single-game
- SHU set new season-bests in fewest points allowed in a quarter (6 in the first period) as well as the fewest points allowed in a half all season (prev. low 19 vs Bryant, Jan. 14th)
- The SHU defense completely locked down what was the second-highest scoring offense in NEC play, holding Mount St. Mary's to their lowest point total ever in an NEC game
- The 41 points scored for the Mountaineers marked the fewest points SHU has allowed to an opponent since a 61-39 victory over CCSU on Feb. 25, 2013 (181 games ago)
- The 35-point margin-of-victory is the largest win for the Pioneers in an NEC game since an 81-45 victory over FDU on Dec. 6, 2008 (188 games ago)
- Five different Pioneers hit a three-pointer, combining to go 13-for-26 (50 3G%) which marks a new season-high for SHU and the most made triples in a game since hitting 16 in a win over St. Francis Brooklyn on March 5, 2017 (53 games ago)
- Dabney's terrific all-around effort is one of the better individual outings in quite some time as her seven steals are the most for a Pioneer in a single-game since Ericka Norman had 10 in a game at Stony Brook on Jan. 4, 2012 (192 games ago)
HAVE A DAY DABNEY
The effort put forth by Olivia Dabney in the 76-41 home win over Mount St. Mary's cannot be understated as the sophomore went for 12 points, seven rebounds, seven steals, five assists and three steals in 38 minutes. She either matched or tied a career-high in seven different statistical categories including field goals made (four), field goal attempts (nine), three-point field goals made (three), three-point field goal attempts (six), assists (five), blocks (three) and steals (seven). She did all of this while earning a spot in the starting lineup for the first time since a home win over Bryant back on Jan. 14 (five games ago).
TRANSFORMING HER GAME
In terms of year-to-year improvement, Olivia Dabney has made considerable strides in terms of her offensive production. As a freshman, Dabney slashed 24.5/20.9/47.7 in terms of FG%/3FG%/FT% in her rookie season only to see her improve to 42.2/43.4/75.8 thus far in 2018-19. Dabney's three-point game was an area she highlighted to improve in the offseason and the work put in is paying off as she is currently second in the NEC shooting 43.4 percent from three (23-53 3FG) just one season removed from going 14-for-67 (20.9 percent) from long range.
LOVING THAT HOME LIVING
Sacred Heart has taken advantage of games held in the Pitt Center this season, entering the weekend with a 6-1 mark at home in NEC play. The Pioneers saw their nine-game unbeaten home winning streak against conference foes come to an end in an overtime loss to St. Francis Brooklyn on Feb. 2. In the six SHU home victories in NEC play, the Pioneers own an average scoring margin of +12.8.
PROTECTING THE BALL
The Pioneers have valued protecting the ball and it shows in the stats as SHU leads the conference in fewest turnovers committed per game (14.0). For the season, the Pioneers are 7-4 in games in which SHU commits less than 15 turnovers and have committed fewer turnovers than their opponent in 15-of-22 games (68.2 percent) thus far in 2018-19.
KEYS TO VICTORY
A comparison between wins and losses show some clear trends in determining key factors to the W-L record of the Pioneers. Some key categories include the following:
|Stat||Wins (12)||Losses (10)|
IT'S A POINTS PARTY
Sacred Heart is the only team in the NEC with four players averaging double figures in scoring – Katherine Haines (16.1 PPG), Adrianne Hagood (12.1), Candice Leatherwood (11.2) and Erin Storck (10.5). For the Pioneers, if the season were to end today it'd mark the second straight season in which SHU had four players post double digit marks in points per game. The last time a team in the NEC, other than SHU, to have at least four players averaging double figures in scoring in a season came back in 2014-15 when Bryant had five players score 10+ PPG.
Team defense has told the story for the Pioneers in a majority of their victories this season as the Pioneers' loss at Saint Francis U (1/26) was the first time SHU allowed an opponent to score 80-plus points this season. The Pioneers are 5-2 this season when holding opponents to less than 60 points and have allowed less than 50 points four times.
THAT 70+ SHOW
A season removed from going 5-4 in games wherein the Pioneers scored 70+ points, SHU has gone 8-0 in similar games this season as team defense has keyed the turnaround. Cumulatively, in those eight contests the Pioneers are outscoring opponents by 142 (+17.8 per game) and have defeated four opponents by 22 points or more.
ANOTHER FEATHER IN THE CAP
After recording the program's first-ever triple-double in a road win at St. Francis Brooklyn (Jan. 19), 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 January 22nd. 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 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 LEADING THE WAY
Candice Leatherwood led the way for the Pioneers in the most-recent win over Fairleigh Dickinson (2/11) as she pumped in a game-high 19 points while going 7-for-13 from the floor. Leatherwood has scored 20-plus points four times this season including three through 11 NEC games. She also continues to distribute the ball well, dishing out seven assists against just one turnover against the Knights, as she owns a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in 10-of-11 NEC games thus far in 2018-19.
LETHAL FROM THREE
The three-point shot is starting to fall at an immense rate for Candice Leatherwood of late as she is 16-for-34 (47.1 percent) from distance over the last six games combined, averaging 14.7 PPG over that span. The three-ball is becoming an increasingly important part of her game as 48 of her 88 points scored (54.5 percent) over the six-game span have come from three-point field goals.
BUT FIRST…WE TAKE THE LEAD
Owning a halftime advantage has been a huge key to the Pioneers' success all season long, as the Pioneers are 11-2 in games SHU leads at halftime. Since the start of NEC play, the Pioneers are outscoring the opposition by a combined score of 351-296 (+55, +5.0 scoring margin per game) and have led at the half in nine-of-11 conference games. In those 11 NEC games, the Pioneers' largest scoring margin by quarter is in the first period as SHU has outscored its opponents 183-141 (+42). By comparison, the next-largest scoring margin is the third quarter, wherein SHU owns a 186-168 (+18) advantage.
SHINING SINCE THE START OF CONFERENCE PLAY
- Since the start of NEC play, Katherine Haines ranks fourth in conference-only games in scoring (18.4 PPG), sixth in rebounding (8.6), ninth in field goal percentage (49.6), ninth in free throw percentage (80.9) and second in blocked shots (2.7)
- Adrianne Hagood has shined in NEC-only games as she sits 11th in the league in scoring (13.0 PPG) and fifth in minutes play (34.9 MPG)
- The Pioneers are the only team in the league that have four players ranked in the Top 20 in scoring in conference-only games
- Protecting the ball is also a huge key to the team success for SHU as the Pioneers rank second in conference-only action in assist/turnover ratio (+1.1, 147 assists:134 turnovers)
DOMINATING THE SEAHAWKS
- The 72-64 win over Wagner 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
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
- Bryant is very much reliant on their interior play, specifically the rebounding department, as the Bulldogs sit tied with St. Francis Brooklyn for the most rebounds per game (41.2) in the NEC while ranking second in average rebounding margin (+3.6) and first in offensive rebounds per game (14.2)
- Despite controlling the boards, Bryant's interior defense isn't top-notch as the Bulldogs sit last in the NEC in blocks per game (2.1) and where the Pioneers can really take advantage is on the defensive end as Bryant has the most turnovers of any team in the league (419) this season, sitting last in turnover margin (-3.68 per game) and ninth in assist/turnover ratio (0.6)
- Junior wing Sydney Holloway is one of the top all-around players in the NEC, entering Saturday's game ranked fourth in the NEC in scoring (17.0 PPG) and first in rebounding (11.7) as she is averaging a double-double through 22 games in 2018-19
- Holloway also ranks ninth in the NEC in field goal percentage (47.1), first in offensive rebounds per game (4.6), first in defensive rebounds per game (7.1) and third in minutes played (34.5 MPG)
- The free throw line has been a trouble spot for the Bulldogs all season long, sitting last in the conference by a wide margin with just a 65.0 free throw percentage
- Since the start of NEC play, Bryant has turned their defensive unit around, currently ranked second in the NEC in field goal percentage defense (39.2), third in scoring defense (62.5 points allowed per game) and first in three-point field goal percentage defense (29.5)