FAIRFIELD, CT (January 2, 2011) – Sacred Heart University's Dave Bike, in his 33rd year as the head coach of the Pioneers, earned his 500th career victory Sunday afternoon, beating the College of the Holy Cross at home in the William H. Pitt Center, 77-75. The Pioneers were led by 21 points from r-sophomore Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) and got 18 and 17 points, respectively, from freshmen Chris Evans (Stamford, CT) and Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) off the bench in the win. Holy Cross shot 59.2% (29-49) but turned it over 15 times as they fall to 1-12 on the year.
"I really appreciate the effort the guys gave and the victory," stated Coach Bike. "I am so happy and grateful that we have been playing so well and the last few wins have come quickly, closing it out today."
"Sacred Heart has given me the opportunity and believe me, it's not all coaching, we've had many good players here," stated Bike. "I've been fortunate to have a job I've liked at a place that liked me. I've been lucky and blessed."
Both teams played it close to the vest in the early minutes with SHU (5-8) up 11-10 just over seven minutes into the game. The Crusaders put together a 13-3 run on the strength of six points from Dave Dudzinski and a three from Jordan Stevens to build a nine-point lead, 23-14. The Pioneers chipped away with a 9-0 spurt pulling within one, 23-22, and then took advantage of the Crusaders only scoring drought of the afternoon to take the lead back.
Down 30-27 with 4:17 on the clock, Mike Cavatalo hit a jumper from the wing but that would prove to be Holy Cross's last field goal of the half. The Pioneers went on a 13-1 run to close the half to lead 40-31 at the break. Gibson drilled a three from the right wing to make it 32-30. Junior Stan Dulaire (Bloomfield, CT) converted on a put-back and one and Kelley closed out the scoring in the half with a three from the corner with 40 seconds left as SHU went to the locker room up nine.
Both teams shot 50% in the first half, HC hitting 53.8% (14-26) and SHU 50.0% (14-28). Three Pioneers found double figures in the first half in Gibson, 13, Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) 10 and Evans, 10.
The SHU lead hit its high-water mark right out of the locker room on a Jerrell Thompson (Plainfield, NJ) jumper putting the Pioneers up 42-31 just 18 seconds in. The Crusaders began to fight their way back in to the game, cutting it to 44-43 at the 15 minute mark and then 53-52 with 11 minutes left. Holy Cross pulled back in front on a Dee Goens lay-up, 54-53, and led by three, 59-56 with 8:31 left.
The Crusaders (1-12) could never pull away and SHU pulled the game even at 61-61 on a pair of Montes free throws. Montes put the Pioneers back in front for good at 5:51 with two more free throws and then gave SHU a 66-61 lead at 5:10 drilling a three. He hit on a lay-up with 1:41 left to give SHU a 72-65 lead, with 10 of his 16 points coming over the final seven minute of the game. Holy Cross made it interesting down the stretch as Andrew Beinert converted on a three-point play and hit a pair of free throws to pull within 76-73 with 23 seconds left. A SHU turnover resulted in a Devin Brown lay-up cutting it to 76-75 but one of two at the line by Montes left Holy Cross with 12 seconds left to try and tie. The Crusaders failed to get off a final shot as Beinert turned it over just as the horn sounded to deliver Coach Bike the milestone victory.
The Pioneers shot 48.2% (27-56) as a team in the win and turned it over a season-low eight times with 14 assists. Evans added four assists and a steal to his totals while Montes shot five-of-six from the field. Kelley added 10 points with three steals in the win.
"Getting Coach his 500th win, I don't think it could have come at a better time," stated senior Jerrell Thompson. "We are really starting to hit our stride and working hard in practice. We started off young and no one knew what direction we were going to go in. We came in and worked hard and it's really been a team effort thus far."
"I am so happy for Coach. He spends so much time with his program and I know his job is not easy. He has to take 14 different men, from different places every year and get them all on the same page. That alone says a lot about him and who he is as a person. He gives his all to us; he doesn't leave anybody behind and just pushes us all the same way to be our best."
"Now we can move on to the NEC season and see if we can get better," commented Bike.
SHU will now focus full-time on Northeast Conference play as they travel to Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday night, January 6th.