FAIRFIELD, CT (February 14, 2011) – The Sacred Heart Pioneers turned the ball over a season-high 24 times while Quinnipiac closed out the game on a 7-0 run to pull out of the William H. Pitt Center with a 55-48 win Monday night to sweep the Northeast Conference Rivalry Week series for the second-straight season. QU's James Johnson scored all 12 of his points on four second half three's, none more important than his final two in the closing minutes to break a 48-48 tie and help deliver the win.
The Pioneers (9-16, 4-10 NEC) held Quinnipiac to just 33.9% (21-62) shooting and outrebounded the Bobcats 39-38 but couldn't overcome their 24 miscues. QU used SHU's mistakes to the tune of 21 points at the other end. Sacred Heart was led by freshman Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) turned in his first career double double and the first by a Pioneer in nearly a year. Montes scored 12 points and pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds.
The two teams trudged through the first half with SHU shooting 26.9% to Quinnipiac's 25.0% performance from the field. The Bobcats jumped out to a 6-0 lead before the Pioneers could tie the game at 8-8 six minutes in. Sacred Heart senior Jerrell Thompson (Plainfield, NJ) buried a three to pull his team to within 13-11 at 11:02 but QU would answer with a 6-0 spurt. Justin Rutty put his team up 19-11 with five minutes left in the half hitting on a pair of lay-ups underneath.
SHU's Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) followed with his only make of the night, a three, at 4:41 and the Pioneers cut the lead to two at the half on another Thompson three with nine seconds left on the clock.
The Bobcats (17-8, 9-5 NEC) came out in the second half and pushed the lead back to eight points by the 15 minute mark. Lance Brown drilled a three to start the half and Rutty and Dominique Langston converted underneath to give QU a 33-25 lead at 15:13. SHU chipped away and pulled with three on a Stan Dulaire (Bloomfield, CT) dunk at 12:59 and then just a bucked on a tip-in by freshman Chris Evans (Stamford, CT) at 10:28, 37-35.
Johnson gave his team a five point lead, 42-37, with a three at 9:34. Sacred Heart responded with a 6-0 spurt and took their first lead of the night just two minutes later. An Evans fast break lay-up was followed by a Montes make at 7:35. After an Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) steal, Thompson took it to the rim and scored on the break putting the Pioneers up 43-42 with 6:39 on the clock. The lead was short lived as Brown put his team back in front with a jumper just 14 seconds later and then buried a three on the Bobcats next possession. Rutty followed with a free throw and QU was back up five, 48-43.
SHU made one more run at it, tying the game at 48-48 thanks to Montes. The freshman forward hit on a pair of free throws and then drilled a three off a Gibson pass at 2:21 to tie it up. From there it was all Johnson and Quinnipiac as the junior guard drilled consecutive threes to beat the shot clock at 1:47 and again with 49 seconds left to all but seal the Pioneers fate. The Bobcat defense clamped down and kept SHU off the board for the win.
Thompson scored 13 points with five rebounds in the loss; the Pioneer's fourth straight and fifth in their last six games.
Rutty led Quinnipaic with 13 points and seven rebounds. Brown finished with 12 points and eight caroms. The Bobcat's 38 rebounds were split down the middle, 19 at each end.
The Pioneers will play their final two road games this week, heading to Central Connecticut State on Thursday night and Bryant on Saturday.