Women’s Basketball Shoots for 2nd Consecutive NEC Championship

The Sacred Heart University (SHU) women’s basketball team is generating momentum for the upcoming season following victories over the Monmouth University Hawks on Wednesday, Nov. 15, and the Hofstra University Pride on Sunday, Nov. 19.

The Pioneers win comes a season after Monmouth defeated them when they faced off last year.

“Our win against Monmouth was a true redemption win. When Monmouth came to SHU last year, they beat us at home. They challenged us in many areas to have resilience, fight, and poise, which we demonstrated to execute a successful game plan,” said Head Coach Jessica Mannetti.

Sophomore Amelia Wood played a vital role in the team’s victories, putting up 20 points against Monmouth and 15 points against Hofstra.

“Our team’s goal for this season is to stick together and win another championship. We have a lot of pressure on us this year, but our team loves pressure,” said Wood.

Wood was named to the Northeast Conference (NEC) All-Rookie team in her freshman season.

“Being named to the NEC All-Rookie team was a huge goal for me last year. It validated the hard work and dedication I’ve put into the game, and I couldn’t have done it without my coaches and teammates pushing me to be better,” said Wood.

Another one of the team’s main contributers has been sophomore Ny’Ceara Pryor. Last season, Pryor became the first player in SHU women’s basketball history to be named NEC Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Rookie of the Year in one season. She had 17 points against Monmouth and 18 against Hofstra.

“I plan to build on our remarkable year by continuing to get 1% better every day. My personal goal is to be a better leader and win another Championship,” said Pryor.

SHU is going into the 2023-2024 season with a unanimous vote in pre-season polls to win a second consective NEC championship.

“Last year we were the underdog, and this year we are the target. We are going to get every opponent’s best game. As a team, we talk about that pressure; being able to handle it, having great resilience, and most importantly, staying together and connected through it all,” said Mannetti.

With the conference season starting in January, Mannetti sees the early opponents as opportunities for the team to learn, grow, and solidify their unity.

“Our focus since winning a championship has been staying true to what got us there. We always strive to be the best team on the floor by being prepared, disciplined, and relentless. Every game is a chance to play together and give our best effort for 40 minutes,” said Mannetti.

The team faces a formidable non-conference schedule including teams like defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) champions, the Iona College Gaels, as well as the

Providence College Friars from the Big East conference. Continued support from the SHU community is inspiring in the team’s previous and continued success.

“We want to continue to make SHU proud. There is an extremely special feeling knowing that the community is with us every step of the way – our fans, our band, our cheer and dance team, our administration, and our SHU community have been an amazing part of our team’s journey,” said Mannetti.

In the 2023 Discover Puerto Rico Classic, the Pioneers defeated the University of Puerto Rico on Thanksgiving day, but fell to Virginia Commonwealth University on Nov. 24 and to the University of Central Florida on Nov. 25.

The team returns to the court on Wednesday, Nov. 29 to face the Fairfield University Stags at the William H. Pitt Center at 7 p.m.

Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.

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