Senior Class Steals the Show, Leading Women’s Basketball Past Saint Francis U, 77-51

Senior Class Steals the Show, Leading Women’s Basketball Past Saint Francis U, 77-51

SENIOR DAY PHOTOS

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – If one were to draw up a perfect game script to honor a senior class on their special day, one would be hard pressed to come up with a better story than the one written by the Sacred Heart women's basketball team on Saturday afternoon. After honoring its five-member senior class pregame, the Pioneers went on to dominate the defending NEC Champion Saint Francis U, 77-51, from the Pitt Center.

The Class of 2019 members Katherine Haines (18 points, 15 rebounds), Candice Leatherwood (16 points, seven assists), Erin Storck (13 points, six rebounds, four assists) and Kiana Ye (eight points) combined for 55 of the Pioneers' 77 points in a resounding victory. The 26-point margin-of-victory is the biggest loss suffered by the Red Flash since falling to the Pioneers by 29 points back on January 16, 2012.

A win of major significance, the Pioneers (16-11, 12-4 NEC) vault two games ahead of the Red Flash (13-15, 10-6 NEC) in the league standings. With just two regular season games remaining, the Pioneers' magic number to clinch the No. 2 seed is one game. 

SCORE
Sacred Heart 77 / Saint Francis U 51

RECORDS
Sacred Heart (16-11, 12-4 NEC) / Saint Francis U (13-15, 10-6 NEC)

LOCATION
Pitt Center / Fairfield, CT

First Quarter (22-13 SHU)

  • SFU saw their only lead of the game with a Courtney Zezza three-pointer that opened the action but after Leatherwood knocked down her first of three triples to make it 5-3 SHU, the Pioneers wouldn't relinquish the lead for the remainder of the game
  • The three-ball kept falling for the Pioneers in the first as Allyson Murphy drained one on the wing and Storck followed suit with her first of three on the afternoon to make it 11-7
  • Haines and Storck each hit a three in the closing minute of the quarter, Storck hit with just six seconds remaining to give the Pioneers an early nine-point advantage
  • The all-time leading scorer in NEC history, SFU's Jess Kovatch, was limited right from the start as she couldn't find her shot early (1-6 FG, 0-3 3FG in first quarter) which carried through the rest of the game as the senior was held to just 14 points (almost eight below her 21.9 PPG average heading into today)

Second Quarter (46-31 SHU)

  • After an excellent shooting display in the first, the Pioneers continued to shoot at a torrid pace going 9-for-15 (60 percent) from the floor in the second
  • The two sides traded buckets for the first four minutes of the second but the game took another massive turn on a 9-0 SHU run over the span of just 1:47, highlighted by Haines who converted an and-one to up the Pioneer lead to 38-20 and force an SFU timeout
  • The lead swelled to as many as 22 in the frame before Kovatch found the bottom of the net on consecutive three-point attempts to lower what was a 21-point deficit down to 15 before halftime

Third Quarter (62-42 SHU)

  • After an explosive offensive display in the first half, it was the Pioneer defense that shined to open the second half, limiting the Red Flash to just 11 points in the third quarter on 4-for-17 shooting and 0-for-4 from three
  • Kovatch continued to struggle from the floor, going 1-for-4 in the period while Murphy provided an offensive spark for SHU as the junior guard scored six of her career-high 16 in the third quarter alone
  • The Pioneers held SFU without a field goal for the opening 4:53 of the quarter as the Red Flash started the period missing seven straight attempts

Fourth Quarter (77-51 SHU)

  • After an opening Red Flash bucket cut the SHU lead to 62-44, the Pioneers ignited the home crowd with a 12-0 run that sealed the win
  • Leatherwood was key in the 12-point swing as she opened the scoring spree with a three-pointer before finding Haines for an easy layup, scoring on a left-handed drive to the hoop and dishing to Storck who hit a triple at the wing to make it 74-44 with 4:46 left
  • With several family members in the stands cheering her on, the game ended on a major high note for the Pioneers as Ye swished a three-pointer, her fifth over the last two games to finish off the 26-point victory

NOTES

  • The Pioneers are in the driver's seat in terms of playoff positioning for the No. 2 seed as all it would take to clinch the spot would be a win in either of the Pioneers' two remaining games (home vs RMU, away at MSM) or the Red Flash losing either of their two remaining games (away at Wagner, away at RMU)
  • SHU put on another three-point barrage as the Pioneers went 10-for-27 (37 percent) from behind the arc
  • Combined with their season-high 14 three-pointers from Monday's win at FDU, the Pioneers have hit 24 triples over the last two games
  • This is just the second time all season the Pioneers have hit 10+ three-pointers in consecutive games
  • Haines dominated along the interior, finishing with 18 points (8-16 FG) and 15 rebounds to go along with four assists in 33 minutes
  • For Haines, the 15 rebounds tied a career-high while she notched her 12th double-double of the season in the win
  • In 16 NEC games, Haines is averaging 18.8 PPG (52.0 FG%, 42.9 3FG%) with 9.4 RPG, 1.6 APG and 2.1 BPG as she continues to build a strong case for All-NEC consideration
  • Murphy took on a large load for the Pioneers, playing all 40 minutes for the first time in her career while finishing with a career-high 16 points (7-14 FG) to go along with three rebounds and three assists
  • Ever since Olivia Dabney suffered an injury against FDU (Feb. 11), Murphy has stepped into her position with ease as the junior has reached double figure point totals in three of the last five games (occurred just twice in the 22 games prior to the uptick)
  • Murphy bested her previous career-best just one point (15 points at Bryant, Feb. 16)
  • To put into perspective how much Murphy's game has improved of late, she has scored 49 of her 130 points (37.7 percent) for the season over the last five games (81 points scored in her first 22 games of the season)
  • Leatherwood went for 16 points (6-11 FG, 3-6 3FG) and dished out seven assists while committing just two turnovers
  • Ye's impact over the last two games cannot be understated as the graduate student has stepped up with 17 points over the last two games on the strength of five three-pointers (5-9 3FG)
  • Ye had scored 24 points across the first 32 games of her career
  • Putting up another solid stat line yet again was Storck who finished with 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals in 36 minutes

NEXT GAME
The final regular season home game looms next for the Pioneers who take on Robert Morris on Monday night with a 6 PM tip-off. The Colonials (15-1 NEC) have already clinched the 2018-19 NEC Regular Season Title and this matchup is a meeting of the top two teams in the league standings.