Sacred Heart Pioneers (7-10, 2-4 NEC) vs. Mt. St. Mary's Mountaineers (5-14, 3-3 NEC)
Game #18 - Thursday, January 20, 2011 - 7:00 pm - Emmitsburg, MD - Knott Arena (3,121)
TV: Fox College Sports, CT Sports Network, ESPN3, ESPN Full Court
The Storyline... Sacred Heart takes to the road with a stop at Mount St. Mary's Thursday night. The Pioneers and Mount met in the Northeast Conference opener back in early December with the Mountaineers posting a 66-52 win in Fairfield. The Pioneers are looking to rebound from a pair of home losses last week to Central Connecticut and Bryant. SHU slipped to 0-4 in NEC play at home this season after shooting a season-low 27.4% in the 72-59 loss to Bryant on Saturday. Sophomore guard Shane Gibson continues to climb the NEC scoring charts, sitting fourth among league leaders at 16.5 points per game. The Mount is coming off a 70-61 win at St. Francis (NY) last time out and are 3-3 in the league so far.
Sacred Heart - Mount St. Mary's All-Time Series... This is the 24th meeting between these schools with the Mount holding a 16-7 advantage. Mount St. Mary's won the first match-up this season, 66-52, in Fairfield extending their streak to five-straight wins over Sacred Heart. The Pioneers and Mountaineers have played twice in the postseason with Mount St. Mary's winning both meetings. The Mount knocked the Pioneers out of the 2009 tournament with a 68-63 win at home in the semifinals. They also met in the 2008 NEC Championship with the Pioneers falling at home, 68-55.
The Coaches... Dave Bike (Sacred Heart '69) is in his 33rd year as the head coach of Sacred Heart. He has a career record of 502-453, ranking him 20th among active coaches. Only Jim Boheim of Syracuse as spent more time coaching at one institution. He led the Pioneers to eight NCAA Division II tournaments and his 1985-86 team won the national championship while finishing 30-4. Bike was named the national Coach of the Year by the NABC following the title game. Robert Burke (Haverford '88) is in his first season as the head coach at Mount St. Mary's University. Burke brings 22 seasons of experience as an assistant coach on the Division I level with stops at American University, Georgetown and Princeton on his resume.
On the Upcoming Slate... The Pioneers continue their road trip stopping in Staten Island, NY Saturday night to take on the Wagner Seahawks.
Scouting the Mount... Mount St. Mary's comes into Thursday's match-up 2-2 in their last four games winning at St. Francis (NY) 70-61 last time out. After beating the Pioneers 66-52 on December 2nd, the Mount suffered through an eight-game losing skid entering NEC play. The Mount is 3-3 in the league, tied for fifth. Junior Lamar Trice is 11th among league leaders in scoring, averaging 14.1 points per game. Junior forward Danny Thompson ranks seventh in the NEC in rebounding with 6.2 boards per game while sophomore forward Raven Barber is the league leader in field goal percentage, making 67.4% (58-86) of his shots. The Mount ranks last in the NEC in scoring averaging 59.4 points per game.
Last Meeting with MSM... Sacred Heart got 21 points from sophomore Shane Gibson but a strong shooting effort in the second half and a 21-of-27 night at the free throw line by Mount St. Mary's led to a 66-52 loss in the Northeast Conference opener for both teams December 2nd. The Mount shot 50.0% (9-18) from the floor in the second half and got 21 points off the bench from junior Lamar Trice in the win. SHU committed 19 turnovers and shot just 33.3% (18-54) in the loss. The Pioneers led for most of the first 12 minutes, going up 16-12 at the eight minute mark on a fast-break lay-up by freshman Evan Kelley. Gibson had the hot hand early, burying a pair of three's and a runner in the lane in the game's first five minutes. The Mount offense got started off the Kelley transition bucket as Trice and Julian Norfleet hit back to back threes. Kelley gave SHU the lead back but just briefly as he hit from underneath and then set up Gibson for a jumper on the wing for a 20-19 advantage with 4:29 on the clock. MSM's David Golladay got an offensive put-back on their ensuing possession and the Mount would never again give the lead back to the Pioneers the rest of the night. Trice buried a three with 1:02 on the clock to finish the first half with 14 of his 21 points. The Mount hit nine-of-18 from the field in the second half but did most of their damage at the charity stripe, making 19 of 21 over the final 20 minutes. SHU had nine of their turnovers in the second half that lead to 12 points at the other end.
Last Time Out... Sacred Heart suffered through a 27.4% (20-73) shooting effort while the Bryant Bulldogs hit for 55.6% dealing the Pioneers a 72-59 loss Saturday afternoon in the Pitt Center. The Pioneers shot just four-of-21 from three in the loss, dropping them to 0-4 at home against NEC teams this season. The Bulldogs came out of the gates with the hot hand and ran off an 18-5 lead over the first seven minutes of play. SHU's Jerrell Thompson gave the Pioneers their only lead of the game, 3-2, hitting from behind the arc at 18:02. Bryant's lead hit 16 points, their biggest of the game, at the 8:20 mark fueled by three's from Cecil Gresham and Frankie Dobbs. The Bulldogs shot a blistering 60.9% (14-23) in the first half and were only slowed by nine turnovers. SHU twice pulled as close as down five in the second half but could never get over the hump. Bryant put the game away with a 13-3 run to pull in front 64-52 with just under four minutes to play. The Bulldogs got 22 points from Dobbs while Alex Francis registered a double double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Gresham had 12 points off the bench while Raphael Jordan scored 15 points on seven-of-nine shooting. The Bulldogs would turn it over 18 times leading to 22 SHU points at the other end. Gibson led the Pioneers with 18 points while Jerrell Thompson finished with 17 points, five steals and four assists.
Gibson Has the Hot Hand... R-Sophomore Shane Gibson shook off some early season offensive struggles and has found his shooting stroke and has led the team in scoring in eight of the last nine games. Gibson enjoyed a stretch of five 20-point efforts in his six games heading into last Saturday's loss to Bryant. On three different occasions this season Gibson has set a new career high for scoring, recently setting a new mark last week against CCSU with a 27 point night in the loss to the Blue Devils. The sophomore guard is shooting 49.6% (62-125) from the field and 46.6% (34-73) while averaging 20.2 points during the last nine games. In six NEC games this season, he is averaging 19.2 points. On the year, Gibson is fourth in the league in scoring (16.5 ppg) and has made a NEC best 46 three's on the year.
Senior Leader... Senior Jerrell Thompson is enjoying his best season statistically leading the Pioneers from his point guard position. Thompson is averaging 13.5 points per game this year, up from his 7.0 ppg last season. He is second on the team in rebounding at 4.5 per game and is the team's top assist man dishing 3.3 per game. At the free throw line, Thompson ranks among the league's best, making 85.7% (54-63) on the season good for fifth in the rankings. Defensively, Thompson has grown in to one of the Pioneer's top-defenders and is second in the NEC in steals this season with 35 (2.06 pg).