AMHERST, MA (November 17, 2010) – The Sacred Heart men's basketball team took a 35-34 lead early in the second half but the University of Massachusetts used a 17-5 run to pull away for a 73-65 win Wednesday night in the Mullins Center. The Pioneers got 14 points and six rebounds from r-sophomore Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) in the loss falling to 0-3 on the year. The Minutemen were led by 18 points from senior guard Anthony Gurley as they improve to 2-0.
UMass shot 40.4% (23-57) in the win and did much of their damage at the free throw line making 24-of-32 including nine-of-11 over the final two minutes to preserve the win. The Pioneers (0-3) did a solid job defensively in the first half, holding the Minutemen to just 32.3% (10-31) shooting while hitting 44.4% (8-18).
Both teams got off to a slow start offensively, heading into the first media timeout with UMass in front 4-2. The Minutemen opened the game just one-of-eight from the field but came out of the second media timeout with points on four-straight possessions to lead 11-7 with 10:03 and then pushed their lead to 16-9.
SHU's Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) had a chance at a three-point play at 6:49 but missed the free throw. SHU would get the rebound and r-sophomore Nick Greenbacker (Coventry, CT) converted on a lay-in and one to cut the lead to 19-14. Three-point makes by UMass guards Anthony Gurley and Freddie Riley gave the Minutemen their biggest lead of the half at 28-18 but the Pioneers closed strong, using a 9-4 spurt capped by a leaning Kelley three with the shot clock running down at the 30 second mark to trail 32-27. UMass would grab back some of the momentum just before the halftime horn as Hashim Bailey caught a dunk for a 34-27 lead.
Sacred Heart made their run right out of the locker room using an 8-0 spurt to take the lead just two and half minutes into play. Greenbacker started the rally with a jumper in the paint and was followed by consecutive junior Stan Dulaire (Bloomfield, CT) and Gibson lay-ups. Dulaire finished off the rally with a follow-up dunk for a 35-34 lead forcing a UMass timeout at 17:31. The Minutemen came out of the time-out answering with jumpers by Matt Hill and Daryl Traynham to pull back in front for good at 38-35.
SHU stayed close, trailing 44-41 with 10:37 to play before UMass would pull away with a 17-5 run over the next five and a half minutes. A Bailey lay-up at 7:15 pushed the lead to 10, 53-43 and the lead hit its high water mark of the night at 4:29 with a on a pair of Sampson Carter free throws. The Pioneers put together one last run over the final minutes as Gibson and Kelley buried three's and a Chris Evans (Stamford, CT) lay-in pulled the Pioneers within four, 69-65 but strong shooting at the charity stripe by the Minutemen kept SHU at bay.
Gibson added a pair of steals assists and blocks to his 14 point, six rebound night for SHU. Also finding double figures was senior Jerrell Thompson (Plainfield, NJ) who finished with 11 points and six rebounds and Kelley who matched his 11 points and added five board and three steals. SHU shot 43.6% (24-55) for the game but made just 12-of-20 at the free line, including three-of-10 in the second half. The Pioneers turned it over 20 times in the loss, leading to 21 UMass points.
Carter added 17 points for UMass while Traynham came off the bench for 11. SHU held the advantage on the glass, outrebounding UMass 40-35.
The Pioneers close out a four –game road swing at Brown this Saturday, November 20 at 7:00 pm. The Pioneer will play their 2010-11 home opener hosting the New Hampshire Wildcats at the William H. Pitt Center next Tuesday night.