HAMDEN, Conn. (February 9, 2011) – The Sacred Heart Pioneers built a 10-point second half lead but couldn't put away Quinnipiac thanks to an over eight minute stretch without a field goal as the Bobcats battled back for a 59-54 win in their first meeting during Northeast Conference Rivalry Week Wednesday night. The Pioneers were 0-for-9 in the second half from behind the arc and were outrebounded 44-25 in the loss, dropping their third-straight.
Quinnipiac (16-8, 8-5 NEC), the nation's leading rebounding team, took full advantage of their dominance on the glass pulling down 19 offensive boards to the tune of 23 second chance points. QU got a pair of double double efforts from Dave Johnson and Lance Brown, who each hauled in 13 caroms apiece. Johnson came off the bench to add a team-high 16 points while Brown scored 13.
"Just 20 in the second half is not good enough," stated head coach Dave Bike. "It's amazing we were in the game as much as they rebounded. They had two guys who got more rebounds than our entire team."
The Pioneers (9-15, 4-9 NEC) got 21 points from sophomore Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) who finished eight-of-17 on the night and led the team with six rebounds as well. SHU opened up their biggest lead of the night at 10 points just under four minutes into the second half. The Pioneers got the second half underway pushing their one point halftime lead to a 42-33 advantage.
Senior Jerrell Thompson (Plainfield, NJ) took off on the break and lofted a perfect pass for a patented Stan Dulaire (Bloomfield, CT) thunderous alley-oop dunk, forcing a Quinnipiac time out at 16:42. Thompson was the recipient of an alley-oop on the Pioneers next possession, throwing one down off a feed from Gibson to complete a 10-1 run for a 44-34 lead at 16:23. The Bobcats struggled in the opening minutes, turning it over five times before the first media timeout.
Deontay Twyman finally ended the QU drought with their first field goal of the second half at 14:45, hitting a straight-away three to cut it to 44-37. Gibson and Thompson both followed with makes and the Pioneers took a 48-39 lead at 12:25, their final points until 4:15 left in the game. During that stretch the Bobcats used a 13-0 rally to take the lead back for good.
Twyman, who finished with 15 points, led the charge, pulling his team within 48-46 on a break-away lay-in at 7:17 and following that with a three that gave the Bobcats their first lead since the closing minute of the first half. QU pushed the lead to 52-48 on a Johnson lay-up before SHU's Gibson ended drought with a long two. The Bobcats took a 55-50 lead with two minutes left but SHU was able to cut the lead to one, 55-54, on two Gibson free throws with 36 ticks left. The Pioneers fouled twice in the closing seconds but failed to come up with a key rebound when they needed it. Down three, 57-54, Thompson let loosed a three to try and tied with 20 seconds left but missed the mark with the long rebound finding Brown who put away the win with a dunk, 59-54.
QU dominated the paint and the glass in the first half as well with SHU making five from 11 from three to help take a one point lead at the break. QU's Johnson drilled a straight-away three to put the Bobcats up 33-32 with 30 seconds left but freshman Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) gave the Pioneers the lead back driving the lane and laying the ball in beating the buzzer for a 34-33 lead. Montes scored nine of his 11 points in the first half.
SHU shot 47.8% (11-23) in the first half but scored just 20 points in the second half on eight-of-24 shooting (33.3%).
"We just have to play better at times," said Thompson. "You just can't go over eight minutes without a basket. Your defense can help you out but you still have to put the ball in the basket. Over that span, the game was calling for us to score, to put that team away, we just have to do a better job of responding to certain situations in games."
NEC Rivalry Week continues on Monday, February 14th as the Pioneers and Bobcats will face-off once again this time in the William H. Pitt Center and live on MSG Network.