Monday, Feb. 10, 2020 | 7:00 PM | Coach Bike Court | Fairfield, Conn.
SACRED HEART PIONEERS (8-14, 5-6 NEC) vs Saint Francis U Red Flash (10-13, 8-4 NEC)
NEC FRONT ROW (LIVE ON SNY) | LIVE STATS | TICKETS | Twitter - @SacredHeartWBB | GAME NOTES: SACRED HEART | SAINT FRANCIS U
FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Sacred Heart women's basketball team looks to get back in the win column on Monday night as the Pioneers welcome in Saint Francis U for a 7:00 PM tip in the Pitt Center. Fans can watch the game live on SNY. The Pioneers are looking to shake loose from a three-game losing streak against a Red Flash squad that comes in with the third-best record in league play.
The first meeting between these two sides was a thrilling back-and-forth battle that came down to a go-ahead Phee Allen three with 19 seconds left that pushed the Red Flash out front in a 60-58 win over SHU in Loretto. In a game that saw nine lead changes and seven ties, the Pioneers were able to win the turnover battle 16-6 but struggled to hit shots as SHU shot just 32.4 percent as a team in the two-point road loss.
- The Pioneers head into 2019-20 having lost five players to graduation, three of which were All-NEC honorees last season including Kat Haines (First Team All-NEC), Candice Leatherwood (Second Team) and Erin Storck (Third Team). With seven fresh faces to the program (five first-years, two incoming transfers), SHU will lean on several key veterans as senior Allyson Murphy, junior Olivia Dabney and redshirt junior Nikki Johnson will be relied upon heavily in the early stages of the season as other contributors work their way into the lineup or back from injury.
- The Pioneers matched a league record last season as four players (Haines- First Team, Leatherwood – Second Team, Storck – Third Team and Adrianne Hagood – Third Team) were named All-NEC. That was just the second time in league history (joining FDU in 2014-15) that four players from one team were named All-Conference. Hagood is the lone returning All-NEC performer for the Pioneers from last season.
- A women's basketball program with a storied history, the Pioneers advanced to the WNIT for the fourth time in school history in 2018-19, marking the eighth time in SHU's Div. I history that the Pioneers have advanced to a national postseason tournament (4x WNIT, 3x NCAA, 1x WBI). Also impressive is that all four of the Pioneers' WNIT berths have come over the last seven seasons while SHU has made a national postseason tournament in six of the last nine seasons overall.
- Adrianne Hagood is enjoying a breakout junior season as she is second in the league when it comes to highest scoring average (17.6 PPG) in NEC-only play. For the season, Hagood sits Top 15 in the NEC in every major shooting stat including field goal percentage (42.4), three-point percentage (34.9) and free throw percentage (75.0) while sitting tied for third in three-pointers per game (2.2). Hagood has reached double figures in 16-of-20 games played this season while she has led the team in scoring in 65 percent of her appearances (13-of-20). Coming into her junior year with four career 20+ point games, Hagood already has eight 20+ point efforts on the season including four in the last six games.
- Since the start of conference play, the Pioneers have gone 5-6 in the NEC heading into Monday. In those 11 games, SHU has outscored opponents by a combined score of 191-165 (+26) in the fourth quarter. As a team, the Pioneers are averaging 59.7 points and own commanding leads in free throw makes (128 for SHU, 93 for opponents) and attempts (175 SHU, 145 opponents) in that span. Three Pioneers - Adrianne Hagood (17.6), Jayla Davis (11.9) and Olivia Dabney (10.3) - are averaging double figures since the start of NEC play.
- After going 10-5 at home in 2018-19 (8-1 at home vs NEC foes), SHU's longstanding success in the Pitt Center is continuing in the 2019-20 campaign as the Pioneers are 5-3 (3-2 vs NEC foes) on Coach Bike Court this season. Since vaulting to the Div. I ranks in the 1999-00 season, SHU has never finished a season with a losing record at home while the Pioneers' cumulative home record across the last 21 seasons is a staggering 230-70 (157-28 in NEC play) for a win percentage of .767. The Pioneers completed undefeated single-season records at home in the 2003-04 (14-0) and 2005-06 (15-0) seasons.
- SHU's dominance in the NEC is noteworthy as the Pioneer have finished the regular season sitting in the top four of the league standings in 14 of the last 15 seasons. In addition, SHU has advanced to the NEC Tournament in all 20 seasons since joining the NEC in 1999-00 and own the league's longest-standing active postseason streak (next-closest is Bryant at seven straight postseason berths). The Pioneers own a cumulative record of 252-98 (.720) in NEC regular season play and have never finished with a win percentage below .500 in league play across 20 NEC seasons.
ANOTHER GAME, ANOTHER COMEBACK WIN
The Pioneers continue to defy the odds this season as SHU's 54-52 last-second road win (1/27) marked the team's fourth victory overcoming sizeable second half deficits. The Pioneers started NEC play with three straight come-from-behind wins as SHU defeated Merrimack (trailed by eight in the fourth quarter), Wagner (trailed by 10 in the third quarter) and CCSU (trailed by 12 in the third quarter) prior to a second win over the Blue Devils that saw SHU overcome another 12-point third quarter deficit. SHU has now overcome double-digit third quarter deficits in three of their five NEC wins.
After going an impressive 11-2 last season in games wherein the Pioneers hold opponents to less than 60 points, SHU has continued to succeed in the 2019-20 campaign when the team defense is thriving. Thus far in the season, SHU is 4-1 in games the Pioneers hold opponents to fewer than 60 points scored while SHU is currently riding a three-game win streak when allowing fewer than 60 points.
THE FRIENDLY CONFINES OF THE PITT CENTER
After going 10-5 at home in 2018-19 (8-1 at home vs NEC foes), SHU's longstanding success in the Pitt Center is continuing in the 2019-20 campaign as the Pioneers are 5-3 (3-2 vs NEC foes) on Coach Bike Court this season. Since vaulting to the Div. I ranks in the 1999-00 season, SHU has never finished a season with a losing record at home while the Pioneers' cumulative home record across the last 21 seasons is a staggering 230-70 (157-28 in NEC play) for a win percentage of .767. The Pioneers completed undefeated single-season records at home in the 2003-04 (14-0) and 2005-06 (15-0) seasons.
HOME VS ROAD SPLITS
SHU has been markedly better at home (5-3 record) than in games the Pioneers have played on the road and in neutral sites (3-11 overall, 2-10 in true road games) this season. Comparing home/road splits, the Pioneers are experiencing huge upticks in scoring (61.6 points per game at home/57.4 on the road) and points allowed (59.6 home/70.1 road) as well as sizeable margins in turnover margin (+1.5 home/-2.9 road), rebounding margin (-2.4 home/-7.7 road), field goal percentage (.366 home/.357 road). In eight home games, the Pioneers have scored 60+ points in five of the eight while SHU has gone for north of 60 points just six times in 14 games played away from Fairfield.
NO TURNOVERS HERE
Despite averaging 16.7 turnovers per game, the Pioneers are taking much better care of the ball of-late as SHU recently matched a program record with five turnovers in a home win over CCSU (1/8) before recording six at Saint Francis U (1/18) and seven against Fairleigh Dickinson (1/25). The Pioneers have now recorded a program record five turnovers in a game three times, with the most-recent occurrence coming all the way back in the 2009-10 campaign prior to the five-turnover effort against the Blue Devils. In the last nine games combined, SHU is averaging just 12.3 turnovers per game and has registered seven or less in three of the nine contests.
FREE POINTS AT THE LINE
As a team, the Pioneers are second in the NEC in free throws made (274) and attempted (394) in 2019-20 and a huge contributor has been Jayla Davis. In her past 14 games alone, Davis is 66-for-85 (77.6 percent) at the free throw line, having scored 66 of her 168 total points at the line over those 14 contests. For the season, Davis is 77.2 percent from the charity stripe (78-for-101; 5.3 attempts per game) which is second-best on the team while she has generated close to half of her total points scored this season (78 of 203) on free throws. The sudden surge has lifted Davis as she is averaging 12.2 points per game over the last 13, with 10+ points in 10 of those 13 games, compared to her 6.5 PPG average in her first six games played of the season.
SAVING OUR BEST FOR LAST
As evidenced by their recent comeback wins, the Pioneers have been considerably better in the fourth quarters of games this season as SHU has outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 381-339 (+42). Not only is the 381 points scored the highest cumulative total of any single quarter this season for the Pioneers (next-closest is the third quarter total of 327) but SHU has also allowed just 339 points in the fourth quarter of games which is the fewest points allowed by the Pioneers of any quarter this season. Since NEC play started, SHU has outscored opponents 191-165 (+26) in the fourth quarter.
FREE POINTS AT THE LINE
Through 22 games, the Pioneers generate a large percentage of their offense at the free throw line as SHU ranks second the NEC in free throws made (274) and attempted (394) Individually, six Pioneers are shooting at least 70 percent from the charity stripe while Davis (70) leads the NEC in free throw makes. As a team, SHU is shooting 69.5 percent from the line and average 12.5 makes per game.
THAT 70+ SHOW
After going 5-4 in games where the Pioneers scored 70+ points in 2017-18, SHU has since turned it around completely in 2018-19 and into 2019-20, having won 14 straight before suffering a 71-70 setback at St. Francis Brooklyn (Feb. 1). Cumulatively, in those 14 wins, the Pioneers outscored opponents by 269 (+19.2 per game) and defeated opponents by 22 or more points in seven of those games.
DOUBLE DIGIT STREAK
Needing to overcome the loss of three of the Pioneers' four leading scorers from last season, Adrianne Hagood has thrived as the go-to option for SHU in 2019-20. Hagood rode a streak of 10 straight games scoring double figures from Dec. 22-Feb. 1 while she has reached the 20-point mark four times in her last six games played. In her 10-point double-digit streak, Hagood put up 19 points per game while shooting 44.7 percent from the floor and 85.7 percent at the free throw line (24-for-28). Katherine Haines dropped 20-plus points over three consecutive games twice in the 2018-19 campaign but prior to last season, the last time a Pioneer recorded a three-game 20-plus point streak was Hannah Kimmel in 2015-16.
After missing the first game of the season with an injury, Adrianne Hagood has provided a huge scoring lift in 2019-20. After scoring 13 (4-10 FG, 3-9 3FG) in a 27-point home win over Hofstra, Hagood netted 23 on 8-for-11 shooting and 3-of-5 from long range at Siena while she tallied a career-high 29 on 8-for-12 shooting, 5-for-7 from three and 8-of-8 at the free throw line against Bridgeport. She followed that up with 21 points in a win over Detroit Mercy to go along with a team-leading 16 points against Nebraska. Hagood went off for 22 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, at Penn State as she hit four three-pointers on her way to another 20+ point effort. The junior guard came into this season with four career 20+ point games but she already has eight in the 2019-20 season.
DABNEY DOING HER BEST WORK
Back healthy again after missing the final 10 games of 2018-19 due to injury, junior Olivia Dabney was at her best in the Pioneers' 79-65 win over Wagner. Playing all 40 minutes for the third time in her career, Dabney matched her career-high in points (17) while adding 11 rebounds, five assists and four blocks as she tallied her second straight double-double after going two-plus seasons without a double-digit rebounding effort. A featured player for SHU, Dabney has played at least 30 minutes in 17 of her 20 games played this season while her 33.8 minutes per game average leads the team. Dabney's defense has been another strong suit in the 2019-20 season as she is fourth in the NEC in blocks (32) and blocks per game (1.5).
DABNEY HAD A DAY
Playing with just eight healthy players in the last seven games, the Pioneers needed several to step into leading roles and Olivia Dabney has elevated her play considerably. She started with career-highs in points (17) and rebounds (12) on her way to recorded the first double-double of her career in a 63-60 home win over Merrimack and she followed with a monstrous individual effort that featured 17 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four blocks while playing every minute as SHU overcame a 10-point third quarter deficit to outscore Wagner 41-17 over the final 12+ minutes in a 79-65 road win. Dabney set and matched her career-high in points in consecutive games and put her the first two double-digit rebounding efforts of her career. Her five assists and four blocks also were just one off her career-high in both marks for the junior guard. Dabney played the entire 40-minute contest for the first time this season and the third time of her career.
SONIA'S STELLAR WEEK
Sonia Smith became the first Pioneer to take home an NEC weekly award this season as she was honored with Rookie of the Week laurels on Jan. 6. Smith spearheaded an incredible effort from the Pioneers in a 2-0 week to start conference play as she was one of the top individual performers from a SHU squad that featured just seven healthy players. Smith averaged 14 points on 47.4 percent shooting while adding 6.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 30.7 minutes per game. She played the role of hero, scoring eight fourth quarter points, including a streak of six straight for the Pioneers, as she helped lead SHU past Merrimack in a game in which the Pioneers trailed by eight in the fourth quarter. Smith followed that up with a career-high 16 points (13 in the first half) while matching her career-high with assists in a career-best 35 minutes in a 79-65 win over Wagner.
In one of the more-impressive comebacks for the Pioneers in recent memory, SHU overcame an eight-point deficit with 8:20 remaining in the fourth quarter to defeat Merrimack 63-60 in the NEC opener on January 2. This comeback win marks the largest fourth quarter deficit overcome for the Pioneers since Jan. 18, 2016 when SHU defeated CCSU 61-57 in double overtime despite trailing by 10 in the fourth quarter. The three-point win also signaled the first time SHU overcame a halftime deficit to win a game this season, having lost all six games to start the season wherein the Pioneers trailed at the break.
DOUBLE DIGIT DEFICIT OVERCOME
Looking to continue their unbeaten streak to start NEC play, SHU needed to overcome a 12-point third quarter deficit in a 66-58 home win over CCSU on Jan. 8. In that eight-point win, the Pioneers outscored the Blue Devils 38-18 over the final 17+ minutes to defeat their in-state NEC rival. This marked the first time SHU overcame a 10+ point third quarter deficit since trailing 51-40 in a 72-61 home win over FDU on Jan. 9, 2016. The last time SHU has overcome a 12-point second half deficit came in a 70-66 road win at RMU back on Jan. 21, 2013 as the Pioneers trailed 57-45 with 9:29 remaining.
CRASH THE BOARDS
One of the keys to the victory over Merrimack in the NEC opener was in the rebounding department as SHU set a season-high with 46 rebounds, 18 of which were offense, as the Pioneers owned a +11 rebounding margin. The single-game total represents the most total rebounds and offensive rebounds for SHU in an NEC game since Jan. 27, 2018 when the Pioneers recorded 50 rebounds and 18 offensive rebounds in a road win at LIU Brooklyn.
SUCCESS AGAINST THE LADY LIONS
Despite an 88-65 defeat to Penn State on Dec. 22, the Pioneers had several key positives to take from the loss. Adrianne Hagood went off for 22 points including nine in the fourth quarter alone, as her 22-point scoring effort represents the most points scored by a Pioneer in a game against a non-Big East Power 5 school since Callan Taylor notched 24 on March 21, 2009 against Ohio State in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. SHU managed to match a season-high with 10 three-pointers and also committed a season-low 12 turnovers, winning the turnover battle 18-12 against PSU. Also of-note, the Pioneers missed their first 11 shots and trailed 17-0 midway through the first quarter but recovered and managed to be outscored by just six against PSU (71-65) across the final 35:27 of play.
SOUTH POINT SHOOTOUT RECAP
Flying out to Las Vegas for their first regular season tournament since 2015-16, the Pioneers showed well with a 66-60 win over Detroit Mercy before giving Nebraska a solid fight in a 72-49 loss. In the Detroit Mercy victory, the Pioneers recorded their first win away from home in 2019-20 behind a season-high 10-for-22 (45.5 percent) showing from three-point distance while capitalizing on their free throws with an 18-for-22 (81.8 percent) effort at the charity stripe. That was the best single-season percentage for SHU at the free throw line since going 18-for-20 against Saint Joseph's on Dec. 20, 2018 (32 games prior). Against Nebraska, the Pioneers couldn't overcome a 31-9 deficit midway through the second quarter but the effort was evident as SHU was outscored by just one point (41-40) in the final 25:14 of play.
At the league's annual Social Media Day held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, SHU tied for third in the NEC Preseason Coaches' Poll. This marked the second straight season the Pioneers earned third in the preseason poll and it comes on the heels of a productive 2018-19 campaign in which the Pioneers went 19-13 overall and 14-4 in the NEC. Seeded second in the 2019 NEC Tournament, the Pioneers were bounced by Saint Francis U in the semifinal round but still got a taste of national postseason play as SHU earned the league's automatic bid into the WNIT. That WNIT berth marked the sixth national postseason tournament appearance for the Pioneers in the last nine seasons while SHU's 14 league wins last season was their most in a single-season since the 2014-15 campaign.