Dominant Second Quarter Pushes #2 Women’s Basketball Past #7 Wagner, 68-51, in NEC Quarterfinals

Dominant Second Quarter Pushes #2 Women’s Basketball Past #7 Wagner, 68-51, in NEC Quarterfinals

PHOTOS (courtesy of Steve McLaughlin)

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – A lockdown defensive second quarter that saw the Sacred Heart women's basketball team outscore Wagner 18-2 led the way to a 68-51 NEC Quarterfinal win for the second-seeded Pioneers over the seventh-seed Seahawks. The Pioneers win their sixth straight game and advance to the NEC Semifinal round for the fourth straight season on Thursday at 6 PM. SHU's opponent is the reigning NEC Champion Saint Francis U, whom the Pioneers just defeated at home, 77-51, on March 2nd.

SCORE
Sacred Heart 68 / Wagner 51

RECORDS
#2 Sacred Heart (19-11, 14-4 NEC) / #7 Wagner (10-20, 8-10 NEC)

LOCATION
Pitt Center / Fairfield, Conn.

COACH MANNETTI QUOTE
"I am really proud of how the played and how we fought throughout the game. I give a ton of credit to Wagner. I thought Wagner brought a lot of good energy so I thought we had to really prepare for them since we haven't faced them since January 21. They have some new players and returners that keep on getting better. I think we executed the game play well and that we were able to shut down their players early in the game. I am really proud of this team while we might have really low numbers in terms of the amount of players on our roster but the team chemistry is great and I could not be prouder of this team and we look forward to playing in the next game."

First Quarter (16-10 SHU)

  • Game flow was back-and-forth early as the Pioneers grabbed a quick 6-2 lead only to see Wagner answer back with a 5-0 run to lead 7-6 just under three minutes in
  • An offensive flurry at the end saw a two-point SHU lead turn into a six-point advantage as Leatherwood found Haines in the lane for an easy two and followed with a pair of free throws to make it 16-10 SHU after one
  • Turnovers played a big role in the first half as the Pioneers forced eight Seahawk turnovers in the opening quarter and 16 in the first half alone

Second Quarter (34-12 SHU)

  • A record-breaking quarter for the Pioneers started very slowly for both teams as just one field goal was made in the opening 5:18 of the period
  • While the SHU offense struggled, the Pioneer defense kept the Seahawks at-bay as Wagner scored their only points of the frame on a Taylah Simmons jumper at the 4:33 mark as the Seahawks were held to 1-for-12 shooting, 0-for-6 from three and were forced into eight turnovers
  • The Simmons jumper broke a scoreless streak that lasted 6:30 for the Seahawks
  • SHU added to their advantage in the later part of the quarter as Leatherwood began to take over with nine points in the stanza, including seven across the final 4+ minutes
  • Ending the quarter on a 13-0 run, the Pioneers held a 34-12 halftime advantage and outscored the Seahawks 22-2 over the final 11:03 of the first half

Third Quarter (62-36 SHU)

  • After a dominating defensive showing in the first half, the SHU offense got going in the third quarter to put the game away as the Pioneers scored 28 points in the quarter (second-most in a single-period this season)
  • The 28-point third quarter is the second-highest scoring quarter in SHU's postseason history and is tied for the fifth-highest scoring frame in program history
  • Points came from all angles as the teams combined for 52 points in the third quarter alone after combining for a total of 46 in the first half
  • SHU shot a blistering 75 percent (12-of-16) overall and hit 3-of-5 from three
  • Haines (12 points, 5-5 FG) and Murphy (seven points, 3-3 FG) didn't miss a shot in the quarter and combined for 19 of the Pioneers' 28 points

Fourth Quarter (68-51 SHU)

  • Wagner outscored the Pioneers 15-6 in the fourth quarter to cut into the large SHU advantage late in the game
  • Leatherwood scored four of the six SHU points in the frame while Haines added two as the graduate student forward scored 14 of her game-high 21 points in the second half alone

NOTES

  • Turnovers played a huge role in the outcome as the Pioneers forced the Seahawks into 16 in the first half alone and 22 for the game
  • SHU capitalized in a big way off those 22 turnovers which turned into a 23-6 advantage for the Pioneers in the game in points-off-turnovers
  • The Pioneers advance to the NEC Semifinal round for the fourth straight season and the 12th time out of 20 NEC Tournament appearances
  • SHU improves to 17-7 all-time in playoff games held in the Pitt Center while the Pioneers' overall NEC Tournament record improves to 21-16
  • SHU also continues to dominate the Seahawks, winning their 18th straight home game against Wagner while improving to 29-9 all-time against the Seahawks
  • The win also avenges the Pioneers' first-ever NEC Tournament game which ended in a 59-56 loss to Wagner back on March 3, 2000
  • The two sides hadn't met in the postseason since that meeting 19 years ago
  • Haines led the team in scoring for the 15th time this season while she reached double figures for the 23rd time in 27 games this season while this marked her 10th 20-plus point outing of 2018-19
  • Haines set a new playoff career-high as she bested a 17-point performance in the 2018 NEC Quarterfinals against Bryant
  • Leatherwood attacked off the dribble more than she had in the recent stretch as her 17 points came on 7-for-14 shooting while she went just 1-of-4 from three
  • Throughout NEC play, more than half of Leatherwood's total field goal attempts came from behind the three-point arc (84-of-156) but the ratio was much lower today as just four of her 14 field goal attempts were three-pointers
  • Murphy continues to show improvement down the stretch this season as she hit double figures for the fourth time in the last nine games
  • Murphy had previously gone for 10+ points in just three of the first 62 games of her career
  • Jayla Davis continues to show well in her starting role as she finished with eight points, four rebounds and a game-high three steals in her 28 minutes of action
  • Abigail Kangudie came off the bench and contributed five points, two assists and two blocks in just 13 minutes

NEXT GAME
After defeating Bryant, 91-78, at home tonight, Saint Francis U comes to the Pitt Center for a Thursday night (6 PM) NEC Semifinal matchup that'll be aired on ESPN3 and NEC Front Row. This matchup shapes up to be a great one as the Pioneers recently defeated the Red Flash 77-51 at home less than two weeks ago while Saint Francis U was the team that ended SHU's season last year with a 78-47 NEC semifinal win in Loretto.