The Grudge Match was pegged as the featured #NECWBB wildcard game on ESPN3, and it didn’t disappoint.
Sacred Heart and Bryant, the top-two teams in the league standings, tussled in a tight one for the second time this season.
Repaying the Bulldogs for a 61-59 defeat back on January 30 in Fairfield, Sacred Heart eked out a 64-60 victory on Monday night in Smithfield.
“It [the win] is huge,” said SHU head coach Jessica Mannetti. “We’ve been thinking about it since they took one from us at home by 2.”
It was a well-played affair by both sides, leaving the exciting thought of a possible rubber match between the Pioneers and Bulldogs in the NEC Tournament.
Little separated the two teams except for free throw shooting. Sacred Heart made 19 shots from the charity stripe while Bryant earned a total of only nine attempts.
SHU small forward Hannah Kimmel, who scored a game-high 22 points, was a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity stripe. Meanwhile, Kelcey Castro, who earned BAYER Player of the Game honors, sank 5 of 6 attempts from the line en-route to 17 points for the Pioneers.
With the win, Sacred Heart extended its lead over second-place Bryant to 2.0 games with two to play. As a result, the Pioneers have clinched at least a share of the NEC regular season crown for the fifth time since joining the league for the 1999-2000 campaign.
Check out the highlights with John Schmeelk and Pam Roecker on the call. Plus, hear postgame reaction from Mannetti and Castro…