Sacred Heart Pioneers (8-12, 3-6 NEC) vs. Robert Morris Colonials (9-11, 5-4 NEC)
Game #21 - Saturday, January 29, 2011 - 3:30 pm - Fairfield, Conn. - William H. Pitt Center (2,100)
The Storyline... Sacred Heart will play host to the Robert Morris Colonials on Saturday afternoon looking to end an 0-5 mark at home in Northeast Conference play this season. The Pioneers are 3-6 at the halfway mark of the NEC slate and in 10th place in the conference standings. SHU is coming off their second overtime loss at home this season falling 88-86 to Saint Francis (PA) on Thursday. The Pioneers need to find some answers on the defensive end after allowing the Red Flash to shoot 50.0% on Thursday, the sixth time this season the SHU has allowed a team to make half of their shots, resulting in a 1-5 mark in those contests. Sophomore Shane Gibson and senior Jerrell Thompson continue to be the offensive catalysts for the Pioneers, coming off a 22 and 21 point nights, respectively, against the Red Flash. The Colonials were beat by Quinnipiac 69-61 last time out in a rematch of last season's NEC Championship game. RMU is 5-4 in the league and tied with four other teams for fourth.
Sacred Heart - Robert Morris All-Time Series... This is the 20th meeting between the two schools with Robert Morris leading the series 12-7. The Colonials won the only meeting last season, dealing SHU a 64-39 loss. Robert Morris has won four-straight meeting coming in to Saturday's match-up.
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 503-454, 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. Andrew Toole (Penn '03) is in his first season as the head coach at Robert Morris University. Toole is in his fourth season overall at Robert Morris, having served as an assistant in 2007-08 and as associate head coach from 2008 through 2010. Toole was named the program's eighth head coach and has the Colonials at 5-4 midway through the NEC schedule.
On the Upcoming Slate... Sacred Heart will play their next three on the road, making the Brooklyn swing to Long Island and St. Francis (NY) and at NEC rival Quinnipiac.
Scouting the Colonials... The Robert Morris Colonials come in at 5-4 and tied for fourth in the NEC standings. Sophomore guard Karon Abraham is the team's scorer and ranks ninth among league leaders averaging 15.1 points per game. Abraham is one of the NEC top-three point threats, making 39.4% (41-014) on the year, ranking second in threes per game (2.56) and eighth in three-point shooting percentage. Sophomore Russell Johnson is averaging 12.0 points per game and ranks fifth in the NEC in rebounding pulling down 7.6 boards per game. Sophomore Velton Jones is also in double figures averaging 10.3 points per game while dishing 3.3 assists. The Colonials are traditionally one of the top defensive teams in the Northeast Conference and this season is no different. RMU leads the league in field goal% defense (.411) and third in scoring defense (65.8).
Last Meeting with Robert Morris... Robert Morris held the Pioneers to just 15 points in the first half on the way to a 64-39 win on February 18, 2010. The Pioneers made just one of their first 13 field goal attempts, falling behind 18-3 in the first 11 minutes of the game. SHU's Corey Hassan ended the drought at 7:52 with a lay-up off a steal but the damage was done as the Colonials built their lead to 15 at the break, 30-15. The Pioneers shot just 23.8% (5-21) in the first half. Robert Morris was even better in the second half and never let Sacred Heart within closer than 17 points, shooting 52% (13-25). Rob Robinson led the Colonials with 18 points, making all eight of his shots while Karon Abraham added 17, making four of seven from three. Hassan led SHU with 12 points while no other Pioneer had more than seven points in the loss.
Last Time Out... The Sacred Heart Pioneers fell to 0-5 at home in the Pitt Center in Northeast Conference play this season losing to visiting Saint Francis (PA) 88-86 in overtime Thursday night. The Pioneers saw a 10-point second half lead erased but battled back to force the extra session thanks to a game-tying three-point play by sophomore Shane Gibson with 15 seconds left. SHU fell behind quickly by seven in overtime and couldn't complete the comeback bid falling to the Red Flash who picked-up their fifth-straight win. The Red Flash shot 50.0% in both halves and the overtime finishing the game 33-66 from the field. It marked the sixth time this season the Pioneers have allowed a team to shoot 50.0% or better from the field. Sophomore guard Umar Shannon scored a career-high 30 points to lead four Saint Francis players in double figures. The Pioneers got matching 20-point efforts from Gibson and Thompson in the loss. Gibson finished with 22 points making eight-of-14 from the field. Thompson scored 21 and had eight rebounds, five assists and four steals.