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March 10, 2014

St. Francis outlasts Sacred Heart

LORETTO — Before Sunday, no team in the history of the Northeast Conference Tournament had ever scored 100 points in a game.

Both St. Francis and Sacred Heart surpassed that total, and then some. Together they set the second-highest scoring mark in a single game in NCAA women’s basketball history as the Red Flash took down Sacred Heart 132-124 in a double-overtime thriller at DeGol Arena in an NEC quarterfinal.

Third-seeded St. Francis makes the short trek to Emmitsburg, Md. on Wednesday night to take on No. 2 Mount St. Mary’s in the NEC semifinals at 7 p.m. The game can be viewed on ESPN3.

The Red Flash (14-16, 11-7) got another 47-point effort from Alli Williams, tying the career-high she set last Monday against Wagner. Alexa Hayward set a new career high with 43 points, meaning the Red Flash got a combined 90 points from their two captains.

Gabrielle Washington scored a career-high 47 points for the Pioneers (12-18, 9-9) en route to setting a new Sacred Heart single-game scoring record.

The 47 points for Washington and Williams set a new Northeast Conference Tournament single-game scoring record.

“We were confident coming into the Northeast Conference Tournament, and we can beat anyone if we play our game,” St. Francis coach Joe Haigh said.

St. Francis trailed by seven with just 38 seconds to play in regulation after two free throws from Washington. After a layup by Hayward and steal from Corissa Archer the Red Flash gained some life and tied the game as Williams scored with just a second to spare.

“Down the stretch we had to play the foul game, and I think we did a great job of denying the inbounds pass,” Haigh continued.

In the first overtime, it looked as if Sacred Heart was going to come away with the game again as it led by three with just 20 seconds to play. Hayward converted on a conventional 3-point play to knot the score at 115 as time expired.

The Red Flash proved to be too much in the second overtime as they went on a 10-4 run and led by seven with 1:37 to play.

Sacred Heart narrowed the margin again to four, but sound free-throw shooting from St. Francis clinched the win.

It was a game of runs right from the beginning; the Red Flash started the contest on a 10-0 streak to force a Pioneers timeout. Sacred Heart battled back immediately and scored eight straight points.

Sacred Heart held a six-point lead with less than five minutes to play in the opening frame before St. Francis embarked on a 12-1 run to regain the advantage.

The Red Flash led 53-47 at the halftime break.

St. Francis posted single digit turnovers for the second straight game. St. Francis finished with just nine, while they forced 18. Each team recorded 48 rebounds in the contest, Williams had 17 boards for the Red Flash.

The Red Flash and Mountaineers split in the regular season series. St. Francis won the first match-up at home on Jan. 20, 81-66, but fell on Feb. 24 at Mount St. Mary’s by a 97-80 tally.

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