BY Dan Gardella
Assistant Sports Editor
The Sacred Heart women’s basketball team has completed its first month of conference play for the season.
As of press time, the team is 6-1 in Northeast Conference (NEC) play, their best start to conference play since the 2011-2012 season, which ended in the NCAA Tournament.
Fifth-year senior Katherine Haines, is coming off back-to-back weeks where she earned the NEC Player of the Week Award. She’s won the award three times in her career.
In the Pioneers’ win against St. Francis Brooklyn on Jan. 19, she recorded the first triple-double in Sacred Heart’s Division I history, scoring 25 points, grabbing 15 rebounds, and swatting 11 shots.
On Jan. 21, she entered the team’s game against Wagner 16 points shy of 1,000 career points. She achieved that record by scoring 19 points, making her the 20th player in the Sacred Heart women’s basketball program to surpass the mark.
“Kat is a special player. As a fifth-year senior, she has worked so hard to continue to develop both her mental and physical aspects of play,” said head coach Jessica Mannetti. “She has had a different mindset this season and has been a huge catalyst in our team’s success. She doesn’t want to leave here without a ring and has made it her responsibility to do everything she can to help our team be successful.”
According to Athletic Communications, Haines has averaged 16.1 points per game.She is one of four players to average double figures. The balanced attack is a credit to Sacred Heart’s game plan on offense: “Key or Three.”
Within the game plan, Haines benefits directly with a basket or a pass.
“Because Kat draws so much attention inside, and because she’s a great passer, she finds the open man and gets open shots for our guards,” said Mannetti.
During Mannetti’s tenure at Sacred Heart, she has led the team to the NEC Championship Game in 2016. She’s also led them to two Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) appearances. Mannetti credits the team’s start in confernece play due to veteran presences.
“Last season we had six freshmen and three sophomores on the roster, and had a lone senior in Tykera Carter,” said Mannetti. “We were talented, but lacked the experience to be consistent throughout conference play. This season, we are led by five returning seniors, and our juniors and sophomores have a valuable year of experience under their belts.”
The other seniors on the team consist of Erin Storck, Candice Leatherwood, Kiana Ye, and Cleo Polyzou.
“Our seniors are a great balance of vocal leaders, exemplary leaders and motivational leaders – they really care about each other and about their teammates and it shows in how connected we try to stay on the floor,” said Mannetti.
The Pioneers’ next game will be on Saturday, Feb. 2, when they welcome St. Francis Brooklyn to the Pitt Center for a 1 p.m. start.