Howell, NJ - The Sacred Heart University bowling team lost game 7 of the tie breaker for the second year in a row at the NEC Championships.
After winning the regular season decisively with a 13-5 record, the Pioneers were seeded directly into the Championship bracket along with the #2 team while the #3-#6 seeded teams had a play-in on Friday. This is the third straight season in a row that Coach Kregling had her team grab a spot directly into the championship bracket.
On Saturday, four teams, SHU SFU, SFC and LIU Brooklyn, competed for the NEC Championships and the first ever AQ spot in bowling to compete in NCAA post season. SHU started it's run against the #4 ranked St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers.
With this being the first year of AQ's the NEC modified the format to match the new longer national championships format. Each match includes all three formats in bowling; Baker total Pinfall (5 baker games), Traditional team game and game and match play baker (best of 7). The team who wins of these formats wins the match.
Although the Pios lost the Quint Baker total pin 962-844, they came back to win Traditional team game 929-874 to force the best of 7 baker match play to determine the winner. SHU won the first game 180-140 then lost the second 199-150 then finished up with all 200's 226-156, 209-168 and 240-217 to win 4-1 and stay in the winner's bracket.
The Pioneers got out to a strong start winning against St. Francis PA in the Quint baker total pin portion 1023-985. SFU came back striking for a decisive 1025-898 traditional team game to tie the match 1-1 and to the if necessary baker match play. SFU dominated 204-190, 215-201, 202-190 and 233-186 for a 4-0 sweep send SHU into the loser's bracket semi-final match Sunday morning.
In the repeat match against St Francis Brooklyn, the Pios weren't messing around, quickly sweeping both the Quint baker 900-861 and Traditional Team game 967-806 to give them a spot in the championship match for the third year in a row.
SHU jumped out to an early lead winning the Quint Baker 1002-928 as they did the previous day and again, SFU would avoid a quick loss by winning the traditional game 950-879. It seemed like history from Saturday would repeat itself as the Pioneers found themselves in a tough 3-1 hole after losing game one 192-167 and two 215-195, winning game 3 200-193 and losing game 4 246-188. With just one loss from the end of their run, a ferocious rally brought them back to win 3 straight 220-184, 234-191 and 235-215 to force the if necessary match.
SHU continued control of the match winning the fourth straight baker game 199-158 to go up 1-0 but SFU came back strong with 232-160 to even the match at 1-1. Freshman Rachel Bamford showed why she was put in the all important anchor positing throwing two strikes in the last frame for SHU to win game 3 209-206 then a low scoring 236-184 win in game 4 gave SHU a 3-1 lead. SHU only needed to win one of the next three games to take home the title but SFU kept fighting to win the next two games 236-184 and 189-177 to force a game 7 of their own. In the last game SFU started stringing strikes to win 205-155 and after spending nearly 11 hours on the lanes, the Pioneers would come up just a bit short to earn their 4th NEC crown.
The final marked the end of their NCAA run for the national championship, SHU qualified and will take part in a 16 team post season in the NAIA USBC ITC Championships Thursday 19. April in Lincoln, Nebraska.