FAIRFIELD, Conn. —
Led by a career-night from freshman Rebecca Sparks, the fourth-seeded St. Francis women’s basketball team took down second-seeded Sacred Heart 83-67 in the Northeast Conference semifinals.
The Red Flash (17-14, 10-8) will make their fourth NEC championship appearance in the past five years.
Sparks finished with 27 points, while Alli Williams added 24 points, 12 rebounds and six steals. Gabrielle Washington recorded 15 points for the Pioneers (22-10, 13-5). SFU never trailed at any point during the game.
“The effort and energy we came out with tonight was just amazing,” St. Francis coach Joe Haigh said. “Everyone contributed tonight, it was a real team effort.”
The Flash jumped out to an
8-1 advantage in the first half, all eight points coming from Williams. The lead extended to 10 at the 15:39 mark after a three-pointer from Aisha Brock.
St. Francis later went on a quick 6-0 run, Alexa Hayward knocked down a three, and then a Kelley Doogan block led to another triple from Rebecca Sparks, forcing a Pioneers timeout with 12:14 to play in the half.
The Flash continued to make shots and click on all cylinders in the first period, they took a 46-26 lead into the locker room.
Williams nearly recorded a double-double in the first half, the junior posted 17 points and seven rebounds in the period alone.
In the second half, the Pioneers managed to narrow the margin to just 11 after they went on a 9-0 run with 10:34 to play. St. Francis proved resilient as they went on a late 8-0 run to fight off any momentum from Sacred Heart.
St. Francis will look for its 12th NEC Championship as they visit top-seeded Quinnipiac on Sunday. The game will tip-off at 5 p.m. and be televised on ESPNU.