SACRED HEART vs. LAFAYETTE
Game 12 * December 11, 2011 * William H. Pitt Center * Fairfield, CT * 3:30 pm
All-Time Series: Tied, 1-1 / Last Meeting: Lafayette, 76-71 - 12/6/10
The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers play host to the Lafayette Leopards in their final action before an eight-day layoff for final exams. The Pioneers are looking to snap a three-game slide, their longest of the season, after fall at Holy Cross, 71-60, Friday night. The Pioneers had their worst shooting game of the year in the loss, making just 34.3% (23-67) against the Crusaders. The Leopards come to town off a 61-57 win at Penn State earlier this week.
Sacred Heart - Lafayette All-Time Series... The series is tied a 1-1. The Pioneers won the first ever meeting on 2009-10, beating the Leopards at home, 81-70. Lafayette answered with a win on their home court last season, 76-71.
The Coaches... Dave Bike (Sacred Heart '69) is in his 34th year as the head coach of Sacred Heart. He has a career record of 511-467, ranking him 20th among active coaches. Only Jim Boheim of Syracuse has 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. Fran O'Hanlon (Villanova '70) begins his 17th season as the head coach of the Lafayette men's basketball program. O'Hanlon is the longest tenured coach in the Patriot League and has won three conference titles and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. He owns a 230-247 record at Lafayette and the Patriot League record for games coached (468) entering this season. He is a three-time Patriot League Coach of the Year honoree.
Up Next... The Pioneers will take eight-days off for final exams before hitting the road for games at Notre Dame and Boston College. SHU stays on the road after the holidays heading to the University of New Hampshire to round out the non-conference schedule.
- Sacred Heart has lost three-straight, their longest slide of the season. The loss also dropped SHU to 1-4 on the road this season, their only win coming at Quinnipiac.
- SHU had their worst shooting performance of the year at Holy Cross, hitting just 34.3% (23-67). The loss also marked their fewest points this season at the half (20) and their largest deficit at the half (15).
- Junior Justin Swidowski has two double doubles in his last three games. He scored 14 with a season-high 11 boards at Holy Cross and notched a notched a season-high 21 points with 10 rebounds at Central.
- Junior Shane Gibson, SHU's leading scorer, was held scoreless in the first half at Holy Cross. Gibson was held without a point over the first 20 minutes against Brown as well. In both cases, the junior guard still finished with double figures. He netted 14 in the second half against Holy Cross and 16 in the win over Brown.
- Gibson is closing in on the 1,000 point plateau for his career. He is just 55 points away from joining SHU's 1,000 point club.
- Gibson scored a season-high 32 points in the overtime loss to CCSU. He made a career-best 13 of 22 shots and just missed matching his career-high of 34 points, set last season at Wagner. Gibson now owns a pair of 30-point games for his career. This season, Gibson has scored at least 20 three times and found double digits in every game.
- Sophomore Chris Evans scored a season-high 16 points against Yale. He also dished a career-best five assists.
- Swidowski is shooting 54.4% (56-103) from the field to start the season, ranking fourth among NEC leaders. He is SHU's top-rebounder at 6.3 rpg.
- Positive Point Guards - Both Evan Kelley and Phil Gaetano sport positive assist/turnover ratios running the point. Kelley has a team best 33 assists against 29 turnovers while Gaetano has 33 helpers with 23 miscues.
- The Pioneers are the top free throw shooting team in the NEC, making 73.8% at the charity stripe. SHU has gone to the line more than their opponent in six of their 11 games and have made more free throws than their opponents in seven of the first 11. Justin Swidowski and Shane Gibson are 4th and 5th in the NEC in free throw shooting. Swidowski is making 83.3% (30-36) and Gibson 81.4% (35-43).
- Offensively, the Pioneers have shot over 50.0% twice this season (51.1% at Rutgers; 54.5% vs. Lipscomb) but have lost both games. SHU has had four or more players score in double figures in four games this season and have been held to under 70 points just twice.
Last Meeting with Lafayette... The Sacred Heart Pioneers battled back from a double digit second half deficit but came up short of a comeback victory falling at Lafayette, 76-71, on December 6th, 2010. Senior Jerrell Thompson led all scorers with 19 points while Louis Montes notched 13 points in the loss. SHU trailed by 15 points with 13:54 left in the second half before coming storming back to take a 65-63 lead with 4:28 left. Lafayette closed the game on 13-3 run before a Thompson three with a second left produced the final 76-71. Lafayette got off on a 13-4 run to open the second half when their lead hit its high water mark at 55-40. Thompson led the Pioneers on an 18-3 run over the next seven minutes with a lay-up and a jumper. Montes got out on a fast break lay-up and then drilled a three to cut it to 57-54 at 8:31. SHU's Evan Kelley cut it to two, 58-56, on a break-away lay-in and Montes pulled the Pioneers even with two free throws at 6:32. Lafayette would pull back in front by four but SHU answered again and Stan Dulaire made a three-point play and followed with a put-back off a miss to give the Pioneers their first lead since the opening minutes at 65-63. Lafayette came right down and answered as Rob Delaney drilled his fourth three of the night and the Leopards would never lose the lead again. The Leopards put the game away at the free throw line making six-of-six over the last minute to seal the win. The Pioneers did most of their work at the free throw line in the first half, going to the charity stripe 15 times while hitting 12. SHU also dealt with foul trouble in the first half, as three SHU starters, Femi Akinpetide, Shane Gibson and Stan Dulaire all had to go to the bench at different points due two fouls. The Pioneers had the hot hand in the second half, making 50.0% (14-28) from the field. The Pioneers forced 17 turnovers in total by the Leopards and used them to the tune of 20 points at the other end. SHU also held the advantage in the paint, outscoring Lafayette 30-20.
Pioneers vs. the Patriot League... Sunday's match-up marks the 21st game the Pioneers have played against a Patriot League opponent. SHU is 10-10 against the league after Friday night's loss at Holy Cross. The Pioneers have faced Army (3-3), Holy Cross (4-3), Lafayette (1-1) and Lehigh (2-2).
Scouting the Leopards... Lafayette is 4-5 on the year and has faced teams from the Northeast Conference five times already this season. The Leopards are 3-2 against the NEC, beating Saint Francis (PA), St. Francis (NY) and Fairleigh Dickinson and falling to Wagner and Long Island. After playing SHU they will also take on Monmouth this season. Lafayette is coming off a 61-57 win at Penn State, snapping a three-game losing streak. Senior guard Jim Mower leads the team in scoring at 17.4 ppg while shooting 39.3% (22-56) from three. Senior forward Ryan Willen averages 15.3 ppg and is the team's top-rebounder at 5.1 rpg. Senior point guard Rob Delaney averages 9.3 ppg with 36 assists on the year.