SMITHFIELD, R.I. (February 19, 2011) – Sacred Heart sophomore Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) poured in 24 points, none bigger then a three with 1:16 left to put the Pioneers up five on the way to an 83-77 win at Bryant Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers shot 54.9% from the field (28-51) and knocked down 10 of 19 from three to help snap a five-game losing streak.
The Pioneers (10-17, 5-11 NEC) had four players in double figures led by Gibson's 24 points effort, his ninth 20-point game this season. Freshman Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) scored a career-high 19 points with five rebounds, two blocks and two assists before fouling out.
Freshman Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) scored 11 of his 14 points in the second including a long three to beat the shot clock with 29 seconds left in the game to help seal the win. He matched his career-high for points and set a new career-high mark with six assists against no turnovers. Freshman Chris Evans (Stamford, CT) made six-of-11 shots for 13 points in the win.
Three's were the order of the day at least in the early going for both teams Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers opened the game three of five while Bryant was four-of-six from downtown in the game's first six minutes to lead 14-11 early. Frankie Dobbs buried his second three for a 17-13 lead at 12:29 and his third triple of the half gave his team a 27-21 lead with six minutes to go. Bryant's Corey Maynard got into the act and drained one from downtown to force a Pioneers timeout with 5:33 left, trailing 30-21.
Bryant (9-19, 7-9 NEC) finished the first half shooting a scorching 66.7% from three (8-12) with Cecil Gresham leading the way with 19 of the Bulldogs 40 points. The Pioneers were equally impressive at offensive end, hitting 58.3% (14-24) but trailed 40-36 at the break. SHU was led by Montes who scored 13, making three-of-three from behind the arc.
The Bulldogs opened the second half going just one-for-six and the Pioneers took full advantage with an 8-2 spurt to take the lead. Gibson put the Pioneers up 43-42 with 17:05 on the clock, their first lead since the game's opening minutes thanks to a dribble drive lay-up. Kelley extended the lead to 48-44 with a drive to the hoop and the Pioneers extended their run to 15-7 to open the second half to force a Bulldog timeout with 12:49 left. Montes buried his fourth three of the day followed by an Evans fast-break lay-up off a miss to put the Pioneers up 53-47.
Up 57-54, an Evans turnover and steal by Raphael Jordan led to the guard hitting on the break while getting fouled. Jordan tied the game with the free throw, 57-57, at 9:05. Bryant then took lead back on two free throws by Barry Latham at 8:47, capping a 12-4 run for a 59-57 lead. Montes put the Pioneers back in front getting fouled on a put-back, and hitting the free throw at 8:24. Junior Nick Greenbacker (Coventry, CT) buried a three to put the Pioneers up 63-61 into the 7:42 media timeout.
The Bulldogs had a chance to snatch the lead back down 65-64, but came up short on a pair of missed lay-ups on the same possession with 5:40 left. Bryant did take the lead back as Montes fouled out with 3:50 left, sending Vlad Kondratyev to the line for two. Kondratyev made both free throws to put Bryant back up 68-67. The two teams traded the lead on the next two possessions before SHU's Evans gave the Pioneers the lead back for good.
Gibson drove his way to the hoop and dished off to an open Evans underneath for two and the foul. The Pioneers went up 72-70 on the free throw with 2:45 left. Gibson delivered what proved to be the fatal blow to put the Pioneers up five with just over a minute left. Gibson buried long three from the left wing puts SHU up five 75-70 with 1:16 left, forcing Bryant to take a timeout.
The Bulldogs cut it to three but SHU's Kelley killed any hope of a comeback win, just beating the shot clock with a long straight-away three with 29 seconds left. Sacred Heart made all four free throws from there to ice away the win and keep them in the hunt for the last NEC playoff spot.
SHU held a 29-27 edge on the boards, leading to 18 second chance points. The Pioneers also did solid work in the paint, outscoring the Bulldogs 30-18. Sacred Heart held Bryant to just 36.7% shooting (10-28) including one-of-nine from three in the second half.
Greshman finished with 29 points while Dobbs added 17 points with nine assists for Bryant.
The Pioneers close out the regular season with a pair of home games next week. SHU plays host to Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday night and welcomes Monmouth to the Pitt Center on Saturday afternoon.