The last time Sacred Heart was here, the Pioneers gave No. 3 seed Ohio State a scare.
The NEC champs were down just two with a little more than 12:00 remaining in the game and wound up falling by 14 points.
SHU will make its return to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on Sunday, March 18 and hopes to do more than just make No. 4 Georgia Tech sweat.
Ed Swanson’s team has the chance to become the first NEC team to post a NCAA Tournament victory since the league first received automatic access to the championship back in 1994.
Callan Taylor leads a SHU senior class that’s been here before. The 2012 NEC Player of the Year put up 24 points, seven rebounds, and four assists against Ohio State as a freshman. The 6-foot-1 small forward makes her second trip into the NCAA Tournament as the NEC’s career leader in double-doubles (53).
Taylor’s classmates, Kris Iovino and Alexis Campbell, both saw some floor time, albeit minimal, in the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
The senior class has played a significant role throughout the Pioneers’ third NEC title run, but the key to an upset on Sunday could lie in the team’s young, but seasoned backcourt.
Although underclassmen Gabrielle Washington (NEC Rookie of the Year) and Ericka Norman (NEC Tournament MVP) will both be making their NCAA debuts on Sunday, they’ve thrived in the spotlight thus far this season. Washington seamlessly stepped into the role of secondary scorer behind Taylor and led all rookies in points per game while doing so. Norman continued her development in what was the Californian second season as the team’s starting point guard. The sparkplug leads the league, and ranks 12th nationally, in assists (6.03 apg).
No. 13 SACRED HEART vs. No. 4 GEORGIA TECH
Sunday, March 18 at 2:30 pm EST
Watch LIVE on ESPN3
Quick Scout on Georgia Tech
Last 10: 8-2
Scoring Offense: 70.7 ppg
Scoring Defense: 59.0 ppg
RPI Rank (wbbstate.com): 14
Georgia Tech, a top-20 RPI team, is coming off a loss to Maryland in the ACC Tournament. Senior Sasha Goodlett (14.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and sophomore Tyaunna Marshall (15.3 ppg,6.4 rpg) are the Yellow Jackets two main scoring options. It will be interesting to see how SHU head coach Ed Swanson plans on defending Goodlett, a 6-foot-5 skilled center who may pose matchup problems for a Pioneers team that lacks the big interior presence. (SHU did have the top-tier post player during its 2009 visit to the Big Dance form of NEC Tournament MVP Kaitlin Sowinski). The Yellow Jackets defend the three-point shot well, allowing opponents to convert at just 25.8 percent. Ga Tech’s overall field goal percentage defense is under 39 percent, not a generous number by any means.
Ed Swanson Show (Pre-NCAA Tournament Edition)
NEC in The NCAA Tournament
The NEC has yet to win an NCAA Tournament game in 16 tries thus far. The league’s best showing came in 2009 when Sacred Heart battled Ohio State to a 77-63 decision in Columbus. Prior to the Pioneers’ effort in Ohio, Saint Francis (PA) was responsible for the smallest margin of defeat a NEC team incurred in the NCAA Tournament. The Red Flash jumped out to a 21-8 lead before falling to Villanova by 15, 51-36, in 2003.
1994 #3 Iowa defeated #14 Mount St. Mary’s, 70-47
1995 #4 Alabama defeated #13 Mount St. Mary’s, 82-55
1996 #2 Georgia defeated #15 St. Francis (PA), 98-66
1997 #2 Alabama defeated #15 St. Francis (PA), 94-50
1998 #1 Old Dominion defeated #16 St. Francis (PA), 92-39
1999 #1 Connecticut defeated #16 St. Francis (PA), 97-46
2000 #3 Iowa State defeated #14 St. Francis (PA), 92-63
2001 #1 Connecticut defeated #16 Long Island, 101-29
2002 #1 Connecticut defeated #16 St. Francis (PA), 86-37
2003 #2 Villanova defeated #15 St. Francis (PA), 51-36
2004 #2 Purdue defeated #15 St. Francis (PA), 78-59
2005 #3 Minnesota defeated #14 St. Francis (PA), 64-33
2006 #2 Maryland defeated #15 Sacred Heart, 95-54
2007 #4 N.C. State defeated #13 Robert Morris, 84-52
2008 #2 Rutgers defeated #15 Robert Morris, 85-42
2009 #3 Ohio State defeated #14 Sacred Heart, 77-63
2010 #2 Ohio State defeated #15 Saint Francis (PA), 93-59
2011 #4 Maryland 70, #13 Saint Francis (PA) 48