HACKENSACK, NJ (February 4, 2012) – The Sacred Heart men's basketball team put the brakes on a three-game losing streak with a 66-57 win at Fairleigh Dickinson Saturday afternoon. Sophomore Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half to lead the Pioneers while junior Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) chipped in with 16 points of his own.
The Pioneers (11-14, 5-7 NEC) got off to a slow start on Saturday, missing their first three shots and suffering a shot-clock violation on their first three possessions. A sophomore Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) three-point make gave the Pioneers their first points to trail just 4-3 at the first media time-out. Out of the break, the Pioneers went to junior Justin Swidowski (Cinnaminson, NJ) on two-straight possessions for buckets and a Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, CT) three for a 10-8 lead.
FDU's (2-21, 1-10 NEC) Briahn Smith buried a three and converted on the break to put the Knights back in front, 13-10 heading into the second media timeout at 11:47. SHU responded with a 12-3 run to build a six-point lead by the eight minute mark, 22-16. Senior Stan Dulaire (Bloomfield, CT) got it started with an old fashioned three point play and Nick Greenbacker (Coventry, CT) drilled a three in the left corner for an 18-13 lead.
Montes capped the run with a fast break reverse lay-in, forcing a FDU time-out at 8:20 and the Pioneers up 22-16. That Montes bucket would be the last SHU field goal until the three minute mark when Swidowski ended the drought with a lay-up from Gaetano. In between, the Pioneers got just a pair of Gibson free throws but FDU failed to fully capitalized, cutting the Sacred Heart lead to just 26-21. The SHU center closed the half with two more makes, hitting a jumper and get a tip-in put back to beat the halftime buzzer to send his team to the locker room up 30-27. The Knights did a good job on the NEC's leading scorer in the first half holding Gibson to four points on one-of-four shooting.
SHU came out quick to open the second half with a Gibson three and a Gaetano to Montes lay-in underneath to force an FDU time-out at 18:39. SHU kept it rolling, piling up a 12-3 run capped with Montes converting an and-one at 16:11 for a 42-30 lead. The Pioneers opened the second half making five of their first six shots. Gibson ended another SHU scoring drought, this time a four minute span without a field goal, hitting a runner in the lane and then converting his second three for a 51-36 lead with 11:25 left.
The Pioneers took their biggest lead of the afternoon at the eight minute mark on a Montes step back three to go up 56-40 and looked to be running away with the game after a Dulaire dunk and a Kelley dribble drive put SHU up 60-44 at 7:24 media timeout. The Knights had one last run left in them as Smith drained a three to start a 7-0 spurt. George Goode delivered a thunderous dunk and a baseline jumper to cut the lead to 60-51 and force a Pioneer time-out at 5:51. Kelley stopped the bleeding with a pair of free throws and a foul line jumper push the lead back to 10 with 2:25 left and the Pioneers would hold FDU at bay the rest of the way defensively for the win.
Sacred Heart shot 52.0% (13-25) in the second half and did the job at the defensive end, holding the Knights to just 39.3% (22-56) shooting including just four-of-24 from behind the arc. SHU also held the edge on the glass, 35-29. Swidowski finished with 10 points, all in the first half.
The Pioneers move on to NEC Rivalry Week and will face Bryant University twice in the coming week. SHU will host the Bulldogs on Wednesday night and travel to Smithfield, Rhode Island next Saturday for back-to-back match-ups.