Sacred Heart came into the season with their entire squad from last season. With experience comes execution, especially five games into the season.
On Thursday afternoon, Sacred Heart continued their struggles to hold onto the basketball, committing 20 turnovers which led to 25 Wagner points in a 67-62 loss inside the Pitt Center. The 20 turnovers marked the fourth consecutive game the Pioneers have had 20 giveaways or more.
Entering the game, the large turnover numbers per game directly correlated with Sacred Heart’s 55 point per game average as a team. More turnovers, fewer shots, fewer points.
“I’m like a broken record in the locker room. I told them if don’t stop giving away 25 points in turnovers, we are never going to win a game,” said head coach Jessica Mannetti. “We are putting ourselves in an impossible hole to dig out of.”
Through the first ten minutes, it had appeared the Pioneers were turning a corner offensively. Behind senior Adrianne Hagood, who had struggled to shoot the basketball through the team’s first four games, Sacred Heart would have their highest scoring quarter of the year. After ten minutes, the Pioneer lead was 20-17.
Hagood finished with a season-high 23 points in what could be a step in the right direction, away from the early season shooting struggles.
“She’s just a natural scorer,” said Mannetti. “She’s just finding ways to help the team. She was off for the first couple of games. She hadn’t really found her rhythm yet.”
But in the second quarter, and beyond, Sacred Heart went back to their old ways. As every travel, offensive foul, or other turnover was called, a slower, more frustrating rhythm was building. Along with the stagnant offense, Sacred Heart was without senior Olivia Dabney for the second half after aggravate what Mannetti called a nagging hamstring issue, leaving her as a game-time decision for tomorrow’s game.
Along with the mounting turnovers, Sacred Heart cooled off offensively and finished the game shooting under 40% for the four straight game. Turnovers and lack of efficiency gives Mannetti a harsh reality when it comes to her team.
“When you turn the ball over and you can’t score, you don’t feel confident at all,” said Mannetti. “I think about two or three fast break opportunities where we threw the ball away where those should have been layups.”
The loss was the first one to Wagner since 2014, and the first one at the Pitt Center since 2000. Frustration is the only word used to describe the Pioneers’ outing, with another matchup with the Seahawks looming tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m..
MANNETTI ON HER TEAM’S COMMUNICATION
“As experienced as we are, we don’t like to communicate a lot. We don’t want to do the little things that make the big things happen. We have put them in a position to make them huddle and talk after every little thing. They have to be more connected. That’s where we are having the most struggle.”
MANNETTI ON KELSEY WOOD AND CARLY STROEMEL
“I told the guards that the post players are getting it done. They are the most efficient ones on the floor offensively. We are actively trying to get them more touches. Our guards have to do a better job right now for us.”
MANNETTI ON OLIVIA DABNEY’S AVAILABILITY FOR TOMORROW’S GAME
“I think it’s that we’re evaluating it on a day by day basis to see how she feels with some treatment tonight and in the morning tomorrow. She’s been battling a bit of a hamstring issue for the past week. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow.”