Sacred Heart Pioneers (10-17, 5-11 NEC) vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (4-23, 2-14 NEC)
Game #28 - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 7:00 pm - Fairfield, CT - William H. Pitt Center (2,100)
The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers welcome the Fairleigh Dickinson Knight to the William H. Pitt Center Thursday night for a must-win game to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Pioneers are 5-11 in the NEC and coming off an 83-77 win at Bryant last Saturday. SHU will need to win its final two game, against FDU and Monmouth on Saturday and have Saint Francis (PA) lose their final two games to get into the tournament field as the #8 seed. The Pioneers are currently tied with Monmouth (5-11), both a game back of the Red Flash (6-10). The Knights are the only team eliminated from playoff contention heading into Thursday's game and have dropped 14-straight NEC contests.
Sacred Heart - FDU All-Time Series... Tonight marks the 20th meeting between the two schools with the Pioneers holding a slim 10-9 lead. SHU earned a 67-50 win in the first meeting this season. All 20 meeting have taken place since the Pioneers joined the NEC in 1999-00.
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 505-459, 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. Greg Vetrone (C.W. Post '86) was named the sixth head coach at Fairleigh Dickinson after serving as the interim coach in 2009-10. Vetrone guided the Knights to a 10-8 record in Northeast Conference play last season, earning a fifth seed in the conference tournament after the Knights were absent from the postseason the previous two years.
On the Upcoming Slate... Saturday marks the regular season finale and "Senior Day" as the Pioneers host Monmouth. Seniors Jerrell Thompson and Mehmet Sahan will be honored before the game. In addition, Sacred Heart will honor the 25th anniversary of the 1986 NCAA Division II National Championship.
Scouting the Knights... After a 2-0 start in the Northeast Conference, the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights have lost 14-straight in the league. The Knights are the only team eliminated from postseason play. Since their 48-46 win over CCSU on December 4th, the Knights have just a 75-64 win over Houston Baptist on their ledger and come in losing 11-straight. Senior Mike Scott ranks ninth among NEC scorers averaging 14.5 points per game. Seniors John Galvin and Kamil Svrdlik average 7.3 rebounds per game, both ranking in the NEC's top-five.
Last Meeting with FDU... The Sacred Heart Pioneers held Fairleigh Dickinson to 30.6% (15-49) shooting and forced 21 turnovers to earn a 67-50 win on January 6th. The Pioneers doubled up the Knights in the second half, outscoring FDU 42-22, and were led by an 18 point effort from senior Jerrell Thompson. The Pioneers blew open a 43-43 game with 6:17 left, outscoring the Knights 24-7 to close it out. SHU held the Knights to just one-of-16 shooting behind the three-point line and turned FDU's 21 miscues into 21 points at the other end. SHU took 22 of their 26 trips to the free throw line in the second half, making 18. They finished the game 20-26 overall. The Knights used a 10-0 run to go up 19-10 as the Pioneers went nearly five minutes without a field goal before a Thompson jumper at 7:40 ended the drought. The Knights extended their run to 14-2 and took their biggest lead, 23-12. The Pioneers chipped away and closed the half strong to trail by just five at the break. Sacred Heart took their first lead in the second half, 32-31, at 14:15 on a Thompson break-away lay-in but Fairleigh Dickinson jumped right back in front and built a 43-38 lead at the 7:31 mark. From there it was all Sacred Heart as the Pioneers dominated the final seven minutes outscoring the Knights 29-7. The Pioneers hit 10-of-12 at the free throw line in the closing minutes to ice away their first conference win on the year. Thompson added five rebounds with a pair of steals to his game-high 18 points. Evan Kelley finished with a career-high 14 points, five rebounds and four steals while freshman Chris Evans came off the bench for 13 points with four assist and three rebounds.
Last Time Out... Sacred Heart sophomore Shane Gibson 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 had four players in double figures led by Gibson's 24 points effort, his ninth 20-point game this season. Freshman Louis Montes scored a career-high 19 points with five rebounds, two blocks and two assists before fouling out. Freshman Evan Kelley scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half 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 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. Bryant 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. 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. Cecil Greshman finished with 29 points while Frankie Dobbs added 17 points with nine assists for Bryant.
NEC Playoff Picture... The Northeast Conference Tournament field has one spot left up for grabs and three teams looking to nab the bid. The Pioneers need to win their final two games against FDU and Monmouth and have Saint Francis (PA) lose both of their games with Wagner and Mount St. Mary's to claim the eighth seed. The Monmouth Hawks are in the same boat as the Pioneers and could qualify with a pair of wins and two Red Flash losses. Monmouth can also get in with two wins, a Saint Francis (PA) split and two Bryant losses. With a 6-10 record, Saint Francis (PA) controls its own destiny and can qualify for the tourney with wins over Wagner and Mount St. Mary's this week. The Red Flash can also qualify with a single victory, coupled with either a Monmouth loss or a Bryant win, and can even get in with a pair of losses if neither Monmouth nor Sacred Heart wins both its games. Bryant is ineligible for NEC Tournament play until the 2012-13 season when it completes the five-year NCAA Division I reclassification period. Long Island, Central Connecticut, Quinnipiac, Wagner, Robert Morris, Mount St. Mary's and St. Francis (NY) have all qualified for this year's field.