BY ANTHONY SACCONE
The Sacred Heart women’s basketball team competed in the 2019 Northeast Conference (NEC) Tournament as the second-seed. The Pioneers defeated Wagner College in the Quarterfinals, 68-51, but lost to St. Francis University in the Semifinals, 68-60.
The team finished with a regular season record of 19-12. The team’s success was attributed to their balanced attack, which is what carried them all year.
“The chemistry has always been great. We were able to not only get stops, but have five different players all score double-digit points,” said head coach Jessica Mannetti. “By celebrating each other, it has been really amazing in terms of the way our team chemistry really shows.”
Sophomore guard Adrianne Hagood saw a large improvement in the way the team played together, specifically at the defensive end of the floor.
“We worked on our communication. We also worked on a lot of defense and rebounding, which allowed us to play so well,” said Hagood. “Our rebounding led to our transition offense, which is also really good.”
According to Athletic Communications, Sacred Heart shot 54 percent on field goals during conference games.
In the team’s Quarterfinal victory over Wagner, three different players scored double digit points, and the Pioneers collected 24 rebounds as a team. Graduate forward Katherine Haines led the team with 21 points, redshirt senior guard Candice Leatherwood had 17 points, and junior guard Allyson Murphy had 10 points.
“I thought it was a great team win, and a great way to start off our playoff ambition,” said Mannetti. “Wagner was hungry and they brought great energy. We knew this game would be a battle. We really did a great job starting off the game, and we had a commanding first half lead due to our defensive play and intensity.”
Going into the Semifinal game against St. Francis, the Pioneers were ready for a close battle. Sacred Heart had split the two games they had played against the Red Flash during conference play.
Mannetti said that the team knew what to expect heading into the contest because they had faced them two weeks prior at the Pitt Center on March 2. Sacred Heart won that game, 77-51.
“We have a great amount of respect for their team,” said Mannetti.
The Semifinal matchup against St. Francis University, was played at the Pitt Center on March 14.
Although Sacred Heart didn’t get the win, their identity remained the same throughout the course of the game. Three different players scored double-digit points. Leatherwood led the team with 21 points on the day, Haines had 14 points, and graduate guard Erin Storck had 13.
“I just want to say, ‘thank you,’ to our fans,” said Mannetti. “I think our Sacred Heart community has been a tremendous supporter of women’s basketball. They [the supporters]genuinely fuel us.”