Women’s Basketball Takes Down Robert Morris, Clinches No. 2 Seed in NEC Tournament

Women’s Basketball Takes Down Robert Morris, Clinches No. 2 Seed in NEC Tournament

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – In a showdown between the top two teams in the league, the Sacred Heart women's basketball team toppled NEC frontrunner Robert Morris, 54-45, from the Pitt Center on Monday night. Entering tonight's game needing a win in either two remaining regular season games to clinch the No. 2 seed, the Pioneers (17-11, 13-4 NEC) took away any potential backdoor for teams behind them in the standings and handed the Colonials (18-10, 15-2 NEC) their second league loss of the season.

SHU pitched a defensive clinic in the first half, limiting a Robert Morris team that came in averaging 67.9 PPG while shooting 42.0 percent from the floor in 16 NEC games to just 13 points on 5-for-28 (17.9 percent) shooting and 1-for-14 (7.1 percent) from three. The 13-point total marks the fewest points RMU has scored in any half all season stands as the fewest points allowed in a half by the Pioneers since Bryant was held to 12 in the first half of a game back on Jan. 28, 2013 (195 games ago).

Having now won four straight and seven of their last eight, the Pioneers head into their regular season finale on Thursday with a road game at Mount St. Mary's. SHU's NEC quarterfinal opponent is still to-be-determined as the Pioneers could face the Mountaineers, Bryant or Wagner at home on Monday, March 11.

SCORE
Sacred Heart 54 / Robert Morris 45

RECORDS
Sacred Heart (17-11, 13-4 NEC) / Robert Morris (18-10, 15-2 NEC)

LOCATION
Pitt Center / Fairfield, Conn.

First Quarter (11-4 SHU)

  • Reigning NEC Player of the Week and RMU's leading scorer Nneka Ezeigbo came out with a purpose, hitting her first two shots taken for the game but that was it for the frame for the Colonials
  • After Ezeigbo drained a 10-foot jumper, the Pioneers held the Colonials scoreless for the remaining 8:57 of the first quarter
  • While pitching a near shutout on the defensive end, the Pioneer offense benefitted from a pair of three-pointers from Erin Storck and Candice Leatherwood to build the seven-point lead
  • The Pioneers set the tone for the game in the first quarter, holding the Colonials to just four points on 2-for-15 shooting while RMU missed all six three-point attempts
  • The four points allowed for SHU marks a new program record for fewest points allowed in a single-quarter, besting the previous low mark of six which had been done seven times including twice this season

Second Quarter (30-13 SHU)

  • The Colonials' scoreless streak extended into the second quarter until a three-pointer ended a span that lasted 12:15 without a point (0-for-15 during the streak)
  • Jayla Davis started the second quarter with a bucket in the paint and later faked a three that led to an uncontested layup to give the Pioneers their first double digit lead of the game
  • Another prolonged streak without a make from the floor saw RMU go without a field goal for the final 5:38 of the second quarter as SHU took advantage with a 13-2 run to close out the first half
  • Allyson Murphy started the scoring spree with a deep three-pointer while Storck and Leatherwood each hit from distance to give the Pioneers the 30-13 halftime lead

Third Quarter (41-26 SHU)

  • The Pioneers had to expect league-leading RMU to make a run at some point and that moment came to start the third quarter as the Colonials scored the first nine points of the second half to force a Pioneer timeout
  • Coming out of the timeout, Katherine Haines came up with a huge three-pointer to stymie the RMU attack and the huge bucket catapulted SHU on a 10-0 run to build their largest lead of the game at 18 points
  • Haines came up with another triple during the 10-point swing and finished it off with a layup off a great feed from Murphy to make it 41-23 with 12 minutes remaining

Fourth Quarter (54-45 SHU)

  • A gamely Colonial squad came out ready in the fourth, again cutting the margin to eight points which later wilted into just a five-point Pioneer lead with 2:15 remaining
  • Needing a bucket in the worst way to calm the nerves in the Pitt Center, the Pioneers' senior guard Leatherwood came up with a clutch three-point make at the top of the key to make it 48-40 with 1:56 remaining
  • The SHU defense took over the rest of the way, as the Colonials would get to within just five points of the lead down the stretch before the final buzzer sounded

NOTES

  • SHU claims a top-two seed in the NEC Tournament for the first time since 2016-17 and continue their dominance in the NEC as the Pioneers have finished among the top four teams in the conference in 14 of the last 15 seasons
  • This victory breaks up a four-game losing streak to the Colonials while avenging a 64-46 loss in Moon Township earlier this season
  • The Pioneers held RMU to 27.0 percent shooting (17-for-63) for the game, which sets a new season-best for the SHU defense and marks the lowest field goal percentage for a Pioneer opponent in a single-game since holding Mount St. Mary's to 25.0 percent shooting on March 6, 2016
  • Three Pioneers finished in double figures – Haines (15), Leatherwood (15) and Storck (13) – to lead SHU in the victory
  • Haines' 15-point, 11-rebound performance gives her a double-double for the second straight game which also stands as her 13th of the season
  • Leatherwood dropped 15 points (3-6 3FG) to go along with five rebounds
  • Storck contributed 10 points, six rebounds and two assists in 39 minutes
  • For the second straight game, Murphy played all 40 minutes while posting five points, four assists and three steals in a seismic effort for the junior guard
  • Davis chipped in five points and seven rebounds
  • Playing for the fourth straight game without Adrianne Hagood (11.8 PPG average for the season) or Olivia Dabney (6.2 PPG), the Pioneers leaned on just six players who played 199 of a combined 200 total player minutes in the victory
  • Despite the limited rotation and size disadvantage, the Pioneers won the rebounding battle 40-39 which is impressive considering the Colonials outrebounded SHU 39-25 (+14) in the first meeting of the season
  • This marked just the fifth time in 28 games this season that SHU grabbed at least 40 rebounds in a single-game
  • The three-ball continues to fall at an elite level for the Pioneers who hit 8-of-18 (44.4 percent) on the evening
  • SHU has hit at least eight three-pointers in five straight games as well as in seven of their last eight games

NEXT GAME
The Pioneers up the finishing touches on regular season play with an away game at Mount St. Mary's on Thursday night (7 PM). The first meeting between the two foes was entirely one-sided as the Pioneers posted a dominating 76-41 victory back on Feb. 9 in the Pitt Center.