BROOKLYN, N.Y. – After cruising past Bryant on Saturday, the Sacred Heart women's basketball team heads to Brooklyn for a Monday afternoon President's Day showdown against LIU Brooklyn with tip-off set for 1:00 PM. Of significance in this matchup is the game will be held at The Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn, home to the NBA's Brooklyn Nets and NHL's New York Islanders.
The first meeting between these sides was largely a one-sided affair as Adrianne Hagood went for a career-high 26 points while going 5-of-10 from three-point range as the Pioneers defeated the Blackbirds, 75-53, at home on January 7th. Sacred Heart has seen a great deal of recent success against LIU Brooklyn, having won eight straight in the all-time series against the Blackbirds.
- A third consecutive Pioneer victory, coupled with Robert Morris' first NEC loss of the season (at Mount St. Mary's), lowers the gap between the Colonials and SHU to just two games with six conference games remaining. The Pioneers remain in a tie for second place in the league standings with Saint Francis U but the Red Flash and Colonials play one another on Monday night. With one-third of the conference slate remaining, 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.
- A career-high 15-point performance from Allyson Murphy, coupled with an explosive 30-point second quarter, were the two key factors in the Pioneers' 67-57 road win at Bryant on Saturday. Despite trailing 8-0 midway through the first quarter, the Pioneers erupted with 30 points in the second period which stands as the second-highest scoring quarter in program history. The total is just one off a 31-point fourth quarter that came in a 69-59 home win over Robert Morris on Dec. 29, 2016 (NCAA moved to quarters at the start of the 2015-16 season).
- Allyson's Murphy's 15-point output came as a big surprise as she led the Pioneers in scoring for the first time in her career while she hit double figures for just the fourth time in 65 career appearances. The 15-point game represents a higher scoring total for Murphy that in her previous six games combined (13 points).
- 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 28 three-pointers over the last three games (28-for-70, 40.0 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 67, BRY 57)
- The early stages of the game heavily favored the home side as Bryant jumped out to an 8-0 lead and SHU failed to hit a field goal in the first 11 offensive possessions of the game
- The Pioneers righted the ship in the latter half of the first quarter, riding a 15-6 run to take a one-point lead after the first period
- Allyson Murphy was the star of the show for the Pioneers in an electrifying 30-point second quarter, as the junior guard was a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor, as she netted 11 of her career-high 15 points in the second quarter alone
- The 30-point quarter gave the Pioneers a 45-27 halftime advantage and SHU held a double-digit lead for the remainder of play
- Murphy's career-high 15 points guided the Pioneers while Katherine Haines posted her 10th double-double of the season with 12 points and 14 rebounds and Adrianne Hagood added 12 points
Playing with a very limited bench unit due to injuries, Allyson Murphy stepped into a leading role in a 67-57 road win at Bryant (2/16), finishing with a game and career-high 15 points (6-10 FG). The performance was quite unexpected as the junior hit double figures in scoring for just the third time this season and fourth time in her career (65 career games). To make the feat even more impressive, Murphy hadn't scored more than five points in each of the previous 13 games and had scored.13 points combined over the previous six contests.
FLYING HIGH IN THE SECOND
Undoubtedly the key factor in the Pioneers' 67-57 road win at Bryant (2/16) came via a 30-point second quarter that saw SHU go 11-for-16 (68.8 percent) from the floor and 3-of-6 from three-point range. Several noteworthy marks from the Pioneers' 10-point road win:
- The 30-point second quarter marks the second-highest scoring period in program history, just one point shy off a 31-point fourth quarter from a 69-59 home win over Robert Morris on Dec. 29, 2016 (NCAA moved to quarters at the start of the 2015-16 season)
- SHU set a new season-high for points scored in a half, netting 45 in the first half against the Bulldogs, which marks the highest-scoring half since going for 48 in a home win over St. Francis Brooklyn on March 5, 2017
- The 45-point first half is the most points scored for SHU in a half in a road game since scoring 55 back on Jan. 17, 2015 in a 101-90 win at St. Francis U
- The Pioneers turned up the defense in the third quarter, allowing the Bulldogs to score just six points, good enough for the second-fewest points the Pioneers have ever allowed in a quarter. The fewest points allowed in a frame is a four-point first quarter for Wagner back on Feb. 10, 2018
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 blocks 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 (14.2). 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-23 games (65.2 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 (13) Losses (10)
PPG 69.8 54.1
FG% 44.3 31.8
3FG% 37.2 26.4
RPG 35.4 28.9
APG 15.1 8.3
IT'S A POINTS PARTY
Sacred Heart is the only team in the NEC with four players averaging double figures in scoring – Katherine Haines (15.9 PPG), Adrianne Hagood (12.1), Candice Leatherwood (11.1) and Erin Storck (10.4). 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 6-2 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 12 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-12 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-37 (43.2 percent) from distance over the last seven games combined, averaging 13.9 PPG over that span. The three-ball is becoming an increasingly important part of her game as 48 of her 97 points scored (49.5 percent) over the seven-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 12-2 in games SHU leads at halftime. Since the start of NEC play, the Pioneers are outscoring the opposition by a combined score of 396-324 (+72, +6.0 scoring margin per game) in the first halves of games and have led at the half in 10-of-12 conference games. In those 12 NEC games, the Pioneers' largest scoring margin by-quarter is in the first period as SHU has outscored its opponents 198-155 (+43). By comparison, the next-largest scoring margin is the third quarter, wherein SHU owns a 193-174 (+19) advantage.
SHINING SINCE THE START OF CONFERENCE PLAY
- Since the start of NEC play, Katherine Haines ranks fourth in conference-only games in scoring (17.7 PPG), fourth in rebounding (9.2), ninth in field goal percentage (49.4), ninth in free throw percentage (80.8) and second in blocked shots (2.4)
- Adrianne Hagood has shined in NEC-only games as she sits 11th in the league in scoring (12.8 PPG) and fifth in minutes play (34.7 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
SCOUTING LIU BROOKLYN
- LIU Brooklyn has struggled for large parts of the season (2-21, 1-11 NEC) but recently scored their first NEC win of the season, defeating Mount St. Mary's at home 71-61 last Monday
- Offense has been the largest struggle for the Blackbirds, ranking last in the NEC in scoring offense (54.7 PPG), scoring margin (-16.0) and field goal percentage (34.1)
- In NEC-only games, the numbers haven't changed much as LIU Brooklyn averages just 57.6 points per game (last in the NEC) while also sitting ninth in scoring defense (71.3), last in scoring margin (-13.6) and last in field goal percentage (34.7)
- An area LIU Brooklyn has succceeded in conference play thus far is from the free throw line, as the Blackbirds lead the conference in free throw percentage (77.4)
- Brandy Thomas is the player to watch for LIU Brooklyn as she enters Monday's game averaging 13.3 PPG (41.9 FG%) and 9.6 RPG which ranks ninth and second in the NEC, respectively
- Thomas put together one of the most dominant individual performances of the season by any NEC player, finishing with 36 points and 19 rebounds as she scored more than half the Blackbird points in LIU Brooklyn's first and only NEC win of the season over Mount St. Mary's
- Another player to watch on the offensive end is Jeydah Johnson who enters Monday with a 13.3 PPG average as she leads the team in three-point field goals (37) and is hitting 79.7 percent of her free throw attempts
- Both Thomas and Johnson rank in the Top 5 of the NEC leaderboard in free throw percentage