FAiRFIELD, CT (December 5, 2011) – Sacred Heart sophomore Chris Evans (Stamford, CT) tallied a season-high 16 points but the Pioneers come up a basket short as the Yale Bulldogs posted a 73-71 win Monday night in the William H. Pitt Center. Junior Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) finished with 14 points but a last second look at a three that would have given the Pioneers the lead missed its mark as the Pioneers even their record at 5-5 on the season. Reggie Willhite and Greg Mangano had 23 and 21 points, respectively, to lead Yale to their fourth-straight win.
The Bulldogs (6-2) trailed by nine at the half but opened the second stanza with a 10-2 run to grab their first lead of the night nearly four minutes in. Yale used a steady parade to the free throw line to their advantage, making 29-of-37 at the charity stripe, hitting nine more free throws then the Pioneers on the night.
SHU (5-5) got off to a roaring start, running out to leads of 9-3 and 20-7 in the game's first seven minutes. Sophomore Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) buried an early three, one of only three the Pioneers would make in the game, and sophomore Louis Montes (Brookfield, MA) got a put-back at 13:17 to force a Yale timeout. The Bulldogs got stabilized out of the timeout and Austin Morgan drained a triple to start a 9-2 spurt that pulled Yale within seven, 22-15, with just under 11 on the clock.
The Pioneers kept the pressure on offensively as junior Justin Swidowski (Cinnaminson, NJ) caught a pair of dunks on the way to building the lead back to 13, 34-21. Yale pulled within four at the three minute mark but the Pioneers close out the first half strong with freshman Steve Glowiak (New Britain, CT) and Evans making lay-ups en route to a 44-35 lead into the locker room. SHU shot 55.6% (15-27) in the first half while Yale shot 36.0% (9-25) but made 15-of-19 at the line.
Willhite got the second half run started with a lay-up and pulled his team to within one, 46-45, just over three mintues in. After Kelley grabbed a rebound on a Willhite miss, he was fouled by Michael Grace and got tangled up and called for a technical foul in the ensuing scrum. The two technical free throws were promptly knocked down by Morgan, giving the Bulldogs their first lead of the night at 47-46. Morgan followed with a jumper and a lay-in by Jeremiah Kreisberg made it 51-46 Yale with 14:15 left.
SHU grabbed the lead right back with a 5-0 spurt, capped by a Gibson fast-break lay-in off a steal, 52-51, with 12:44 left. From there, the game would feature five ties before the final horn. The Bulldogs pulled back in front by five at the 9:43 mark on a Willhite runner but SHU's Evans pulled the game back even at 65-65 with a lay-in off a steal and a strong finish off a Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, CT) pass, plus a foul at 6:58.
Down the stretch, Mangano went to work on the inside and got his team back up five after a two-shot foul and a put-back tip-in, 70-65, at 4:02. SHU's big man in Swidowski answered with a pair of free throws of his own and then drilled a pair of jumpers to give the Pioneers the lead back at 71-70 with 1:57 left. The Bulldogs again got help from their big man as Mangano drew a loose ball foul on a rebound and promptly stuck the two free throws to go up 72-71. SHU would get two great looks a three in the closing seconds as Kelley just missed the mark from the left wing and Gibson miss firing from the right win with a second left as the rebound caromed off with the final horn sounding.
Whillhite added seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks to his final line. The Bulldogs shot 40.4% (21-52) but made it up at the charity stripe.
The Pioneers got a 15 point, six rebound effort from Swidowski in the loss while Evans added five assists and four rebounds to his line. Neither team shot well from three, with SHU hitting 21.4% (3-14) and Yale 12.5% (2-16).
The Pioneers are back on the road this Friday night, December 9th as they head to Holy Cross in a 7 pm tip-off.