Second Half Surge Lifts Sacred Heart Past Manhattan
FAIRFIELD, Conn. - The Manhattan College women's basketball team returned to action for the first time since Dec. 8 with a tilt at defending Northeast Conference champion Sacred Heart on Monday night. After an even first half, the Pioneers (5-4) went on a 26-4 second-half run to pull away from the Jaspers (2-7) en route to a 55-38 victory at the William H. Pitt Center.
"We had opportunities, but we weren't good enough on the offensive end in the second half," Head Coach John Olenowski said. "We settled for too many quick shots, which is something we can't do."
Sacred Heart opened the game by scoring nine of the first 11 points before Manhattan got five straight points from Maggie Blair (Briarcliff, N.Y.) to pull within two at 9-7. The Pioneers responded with a 5-0 rally to push their advantage back to seven points, 14-7, at the 13:17 mark, but the Jaspers rallied for seven points of their own, tying the game on a trey by Ashley Stec (Cazenovia, N.Y.).
The Pioneers regained the lead on a three-pointer by Kiley Evans, but the Jaspers again tied the score on a three-ball from Nicole Isaacs (Fair Haven, N.J.) with 9:55 remaining before halftime. Manhattan then went in front, 19-17, on Shayna Ericksen's (Hackettstown, N.J.) jumper with 5:57 left in the half. The teams traded the lead three times before Stec knotted the score at 23-23 with a layup at the 2:09 mark. Manhattan pulled ahead 25-23 on a pair of Toni-Ann Lawrence (Elmont, N.Y.) free throws, then Sacred Heart's Morgan Merriman hit a layup to tie the game, 25-25, at intermission.
Manhattan scored the first four points of the second half and led 31-27 after a Stec jumper with 14:52 remaining. However, an Evans free throw at the 13:21 mark ignited an 11-0 Sacred Heart run that gave the Pioneers a 38-31 cushion. The Jaspers got back within six on Monica Roeder's (Marlton, N.J.) layup that made it 40-34 with 6:38 to go, but Sacred Heart countered with a 15-1 rally to extend the margin to 20 points, 55-35. Stec then hit a late three-pointer to make the final score 55-38.
Stec paced Manhattan with a career-high 12 points, as no other Jasper contributed more than five points in the scoring column. Stec and Ericksen each grabbed six rebounds, while Allison Skrec (Roselle, N.J.) distributed five assists to go along with five points and three steals. The Jaspers struggled offensively, shooting just 25 percent (13-of-52) from the field, including 17.4 percent (4-of-23) in the second half. Manhattan went 5-for-19 (26.3 percent) from long range and 7-for-13 (53.8 percent) at the charity stripe.
Evans and Gabrielle Washington had 15 points apiece for the Pioneers. Merriman added eight points and three blocks, while Ericka Norman handed out eight assists. Enjoli Bland corralled a game-high 10 rebounds, and Blair Koniszewski tallied eight points and seven boards off the bench, as the Pioneers outrebounded the Jaspers 42-34. As a team, Sacred Heart shot 37 percent (20-of-54) from the field, 41.2 percent (7-of-17) from three-point land, and 61.5 percent (8-of-13) at the free throw line.
Manhattan has one contest remaining before taking a nine-day break for the holidays. The Jaspers host Ohio (4-5) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in their final non-conference home game of the season.NOTES: Manhattan met Sacred Heart for the fifth consecutive season, and the home team has won every game in the series, which the Jaspers lead 3-2...Manhattan's two-game winning streak against the Pioneers was snapped...The Jaspers used a different starting lineup for the fourth straight game and the sixth time this season, with Blake Underhill (Ashland, Mass.) making her first collegiate start...Manhattan was held under 40 points for the first time since a 34-33 loss to Siena in the quarterfinals of last season's MAAC Tournament...Stec's previous career-high was 10 points against Towson in the season opener on Nov. 10...Briana Schnare (Holden, Mass.) made her collegiate debut in the game...This was Manhattan's first game this season played outside the State of New York.