January 18, 2012

NEC Rival Quinnipiac Comes to Town Thursday Night

SACRED HEART vs. QUINNIPIAC

Game 20 * January 19, 2012 * William H. Pitt Center * Fairfield, CT * 7:00 pm

Full Set of Game Notes

The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers return home to renew their Northeast Conference rivalry with Quinnipiac Thursday night in the Pitt Center.  The Pioneers begin a four-game homestand, their longest of the season, and come in off a split on the road, winning at Saint Francis (PA), 71-68, and losing at Robert Morris, 70-67.  R-Junior Shane Gibson was named Choice Hotels NEC Co-Player of the Week after averaging 25.2 ppg on the road trip.  Gibson leads the NEC in scoring at 20.3 ppg.  Saturday is the return match-up of SHU's early season 68-55 win at Quinnipiac in the league opener.

Sacred Heart - Quinnipiac All-Time Series... This is the 61st meeting between the Pioneers and Bobcats in a series that dates back to the Division II era for both teams.  Since joining the NEC in 1999-00, Quinnipiac holds a 14-12 edge in the series.  SHU ended a five-game QU winning streak in the series with a 68-55 win in the first meeting this season back in December.  The two teams have met just once in the NEC Tournament, an 83-69 semifinal SHU win at home in 2006-07.  Sacred Heart holds the all-time edge, 38-22.  The first meeting between the teams was in 1965, a 100-83 Quinnipiac win. 

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 514-472, 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.  Tom Moore (Boston University '87) is in his fifth season as the head coach at Quinnipiac University.  Moore owns a 84-59 record in his time at Quinnipiac.  He led the Bobcats to a share of the 2009-10 NEC regular season title and was named the NEC's Coach of the Year that season.  Prior to becoming the Bobcat's head coach, he was an assistant coach at UConn from 1994 through 2007.  He was the head coach at Worcester State College for five seasons where he compiled a 76-59 mark.

Up Next...  The Pioneers will play host to Central Connecticut State on "Pack the Pitt" Day this Saturday, January 21st.  The women tip-off at 1:00 pm with the men set for 3:30 pm.

Quick Hits...

- Junior Shane Gibson was named the Choice Hotels NEC Co-Player of the Week after averaging 27.5 points on the Western Pennsylvania road trip.  Gibson hit for 26 points at SFPA and followed that up with a 29 point night at Robert Morris where he set a new career-high with seven three's. 

- Gibson has leapt into the lead in the NEC scoring race, raising his average to 20.3 ppg.  He owns ten 20-point games this season and has recorded seven 20-point efforts in his last eight games.  In six NEC games this year, the junior guard is scoring at a 25.2 per game clip.
- In the NEC rankings, Gibson ranks third in three-point percentage (.450), fourth in made three-pointers (2.6 per game) and free-throw percentage (.836), and ninth in field goal percentage (.513) and steals (1.3 per game).

- Freshman guard Steve Glowiak had a solid week, coming off the bench for 11 points at SFPA and tied his career-high with 16 at Robert Morris.  He hit six-of-14 from three over the two games.

- Freshman point guard Phil Gaetano ranks fifth in the NEC in assists (4.11 apg) and dished out a career-high nine helpers in the win at SFPA.

- The Pioneers rank first in the NEC in 3-pt field goal percentage (.380) and free throw shooting (.744) and third in scoring (73.2 ppg) and field goal percentage (.457).

- Sacred Heart has shot 50.0% or better seven times this season but is just 3-4 in those games. SHU had their top-shooting effort of the season in last Thursday's win at Saint Francis (PA), burying 56.1% (23-41) on a season-low 41 shots.  The Pioneers have shot 50.0% or better in four of their last six games.

- The Pioneers tied their season-high with 22 turnovers vs. the Red Flash.  SHU turned it over 22 times in a loss at Rutgers.  Shane Gibson had nine of the Pioneers 22 turnovers, a career-high.

- Offensively, the Pioneers have scored 80 or more points four times this season but are just 1-3 in those games (L 82-80 ot at CCSU; W 84-79 vs. Lafayette; L vs. LIU Brooklyn 87-81; L vs. St. Francis-NY 99-84).

- Defensively, the Pioneers gave up their most points in an NEC game for the first time since the 2007-08 season in the 99-84 loss to St. Francis-NY.  SHU lost 100-87 at home to Central Connecticut State in the season finale on March 2, 2008.  On the year, SHU has allowed 80 or more points seven times and on three occasions given up 90 or more points.

- Injury Bug - SHU continues to be without the services of senior guard Steve Zazuri.  Starting point guard Evan Kelley was forced out of the line-up after suffering an ankle injury in the loss to LIU and has missed the last three games.  Junior center Justin Swidowski was limited to just four minutes at Saint Francis (PA) after suffering a shoulder injury.  He did not return to the game and did not play in Saturday's game at Robert Morris.

Last Meeting with Quinnipiac...  Behind a 21-point night from junior Shane Gibson the Sacred Heart Pioneers opened Northeast Conference play with a 68-55 win at Quinnipiac on December 1st, ending a five-game losing streak to the Bobcats.  Fellow junior Femi Akinpetide chipped in with a season-high 11 points as the Pioneers matched their best Division I start at 5-3 on the year.  SHU used the three to take the lead and build it to double digits by the half, hitting five-of-nine from behind the arc, 55.6%.  Swidowski buried one from downtown to give Sacred Heart the lead at 13-11 and the Pioneers never looked back.  Freshman Phil Gaetano hit from three for a 20-13 lead and Gibson followed with his third of the half at 8:36 for a 23-15 lead.  Sophomore Chris Evans scored seven-straight points for SHU, completing an old fashioned three-point play for a 30-19 advantage with just under three to play in the half.  Gibson would finish the half with 13 points while Evans chipped in nine as SHU held QU to just 26.3% shooting on the way to a 34-24 lead at the break.  The Bobcats opened the second half with an 8-0 run to pull within 36-32 just over three minutes in.  The Pioneers answered back with a Gibson lay-in and a three from junior Nick Greenbacker and Akinpetide pushed the lead back to double digits with a fast-break lay-up and jumper, 46-36, at 12:39.  Akinpetide would go on to score nine of his 11 points in the second half.  Quinnipiac would pull to within six, 55-49, with just over six to play but SHU would pull away with a 9-0 run over the next four minutes.  Gibson added five rebounds and three assists to his totals.  Evans finished seven-of-11 at the free throw line where SHU shot 20-of-29 as a team in the win.  Evans finished with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.  The Bobcats shot just 31.3% (21-67) from the field and nine-of-20 from the line (45.0%) in the loss.  Azotam pulled down 16 boards to go with 18 points.  James Johnson tacked on 15 points.

Facing the Colonials - Last 10 Meetings (Tied 5-5)...

12/1/11     SHU 68       QU 55             TD Bank Sports Center

2/14/11     QU 55         SHU 48            Pitt Center

2/9/11       QU 59         SHU 54            TD Bank Sports Center

2/6/10       QU 90         SHU 87            TD Bank Sports Center

2/4/10       QU 86         SHU 71            Pitt Center

2/5/09       QU 66         SHU 64            Pitt Center

1/22/09     SHU 70       QU 66             TD Bank Sports Center

2/23/08     SHU 88       QU  74            TD Bank Sports Center

1/26/08     SHU 75       QU 74             Pitt Center

3/4/07       SHU 83       QU 69             Pitt Center (NEC Tourn. QF)

Scouting the Bobcats...  The Quinnipiac Bobcats come in at 2-4 in the NEC, tied with SHU and Mount St. Mary's for seventh in the standings.  The Bobcats split on the Western Pennsylvania road swing, winning at Robert Morris, 78-76, and falling at Saint Francis (PA) 74-71.  Senior James Johnson is fifth in the NEC scoring rankings averaging 17.4 ppg.  Sophomore forward Ike Azotam is eighth in scoring at 16.1 ppg and is the league's top-rebounder at 9.9 rpg.  Azotam ranks 27th in the nation in rebounding, 18th in offensive caroms per game (3.7).  As a team, the Bobcats rank among the nation's best in rebounding the basketball.  Quinnipiac is second to North Carolina in rebound per game (43.3) and ranks fourth in rebounding margin (+10.4) and second in offensive rebounds per game (16.6).

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