February 7, 2012

NEC Rivalry Week Tips-Off on Wednesday Night

NEC RIVALRY WEEK
SACRED HEART vs. BRYANT
Game 26 * February 8, 2012 * William H. Pitt Center * Fairfield, CT * 7:00 pm

Full Set of Game Notes

The Storyline... Sacred Heart begins NEC Rivalry Week at home Wednesday night playing host to the Bryant Bulldogs.  The Sacred Heart and Bryant match-up has been dubbed the "New England Knockout" by the NEC.  The two teams will hook-up again on Saturday at Bryant.  The Pioneers are 5-7 in league play and tied with Monmouth for seventh in the standings after a 66-57 win at FDU on Saturday.  The Bulldogs have just one conference win on the year and have lost nine-straight.

All-Time Series vs. Bryant...  Wednesday's game is the 23rd meeting between Sacred Heart and Bryant, with the Pioneers leading the series 13-9.  Since the Bulldogs became a member of the NEC, SHU leads the series 5-1.  The two teams split last year's meetings, each winning on the other's home court.  Prior to the 2008-09 season, the two teams hadn't met on the hardwood since the 1997-98 campaign when SHU defeated Bryant 83-67 in the Pitt Center in the final game of the season.  The two schools first met on the court in 1965-66, SHU's inaugural season.

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 517-474, 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.  Tim O'Shea (Boston College '84) is in his fourth season on the Bryant University bench.  Prior to becoming the seventh head coach in Bulldog program history, O'Shea spent seven seasons as the head coach at Ohio University where he recorded a 120-95 record.  He led the Bobcats to the 2004-05 MAC Championship and spot in the NCAA Tournament.  He had assistant coaching stints at Yale, Rhode Island and Boston College.

Up Next...  SHU and Bryant will meet again on Saturday afternoon in Smithfield, RI.

Quick Hits...

- The Pioneers and Bulldogs are matched-up for back-to-back games during the NEC's third edition of "Rivalry Week".  SHU took on in-state rival Quinnipiac during the past two seasons, splitting with the Bobcats in 2009-10 and dropping both meetings last year.

- Junior Shane Gibson saw his streak of seven-straight games with 20 or more points snapped at FDU with a 16 point outing.  Gibson has fourteen 20-point games this season.  He has 12 in his last 14 games.

- Gibson needs just eight points to tie Maurice Bailey's single season Division I scoring record of 542 points (2003-04).

- Gibson continues to lead in the NEC scoring race, averaging 21.6 ppg.  That figure also ranks him seventh in the nation. 

- In 12 NEC games, Gibson is averaging 24.9 ppg, five points more than second-ranked Ken Horton (19.8 ppg) of CCSU.

- Sophomore Louis Montes notched his second double double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds at Monmouth and scored 16 points in the win at FDU.  Over his last six games, Montes has five starts and is averaging 15.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.

- Junior Justin Swidowski failed to score for the first time this year in the loss at Monmouth.  Swidowski did match his season-high with 11 rebounds and set a new high of four blocks.  He returned to the starting line-up at FDU (6-game stretch) and came-up with 10 points.

- Swidowski (11) and Montes (10) where the first teammates to pull down double digit rebounds in a game since Corey Hassan (12) and Liam Potter (10) accomplished it against CCSU in the 2009-10 season.

- Sophomore Evan Kelley returned to the starting line-up in last week's games for the first time since January 5th (7-game stretch).  Evans did miss three games with an ankle injury.

- Injury Bug - Sophomore Chris Evans has missed the last three games with a knee injury and is considered questionable.  SHU continues to be without the services of senior guard Steve Zazuri

Last Meeting with Bryant...  Sacred Heart's 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 on February 17, 2011.  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.  Forward Louis Montes scored a career-high 19 points with five rebounds, two blocks and two assists before fouling out.  SHU's 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.  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.  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.

Scouting the Bulldogs...  The Bryant Bulldogs enter NEC Rivalry Week in the midst of a nine-game losing streak and tied with Fairleigh Dickinson at the bottom of the standings at 1-11.  The Bulldogs are in their final season of reclassifying to Division I and are not eligible for the NEC Tournament until the 2012-13 season.  Sophomore forward Alex Francis leads Bryant in scoring and is fifth in the NEC averaging 17.0 points per game.  Francis is also one of the NEC's top-rebounders at 7.3 caroms per game.  Junior Frankie Dobbs is 14th among the league leaders averaging 13.2 ppg.  Dobbs ranks second in the NEC in assists, dishing out 4.54 per game.  Junior guard Raphael Jordan is fifth in the league in three-point shooting, making 39.2% (29-74).

Facing the Bulldogs - Last 10 Meetings (SHU, 8-2)...

2/17/11     SHU 83            Bryant 77                Bryant University

1/15/11     Bryant 72          SHU 59                  Pitt Center

1/23/10     SHU 84            Bryant 60                Pitt Center

1/14/10     SHU 72            Bryant 60                Bryant University

2/28/09     SHU 90            Bryant 60                Pitt Center

1/14/09     SHU 73            Bryant 64                Bryant University

2/16/98     SHU 83            Bryant 67                Pitt Center

12/20/96    Bryant 91          SHU 86                  Bryant University

12/5/92     SHU 68            Bryant 68                SHU Gymnasium

1/5/92       SHU 96            Bryant 54                Bryant University

Pioneers in the NEC...  Sacred Heart is in its 13th season of play in the Northeast Conference in 2011-12.  The Pioneers are 95-137 in conference play since joining the league in 1999-2000.  SHU has qualified for the Northeast Conference Tournament five times but saw a streak of four-straight seasons making the postseason snapped in 2009-10.  The Pioneers best finish in the league was second, a feat they accomplished twice, in 2006-07 and 2008-09.  SHU has made two NEC Championship game appearances, falling to Central Connecticut State in 2007 and losing to Mount St. Mary's at home in 2008.

Closing in on SHU History...  Shane Gibson is closing in on the SHU Division I record for points scored in a season.  He currently sits at 534, surpassing his 2010-11 season total.  Maurice Bailey holds the record at 542 and Kibwe Trim and Corey Hassan are second with 537 points.

1. Maurice Bailey (27 gms) 542 - '03-'04

2. Kibwe Trim (28 gms) 537 - '05-'06

    Corey Hassan (28 gms) 537 - '09-'10

4. Shane Gibson (24 gms) 534 - '11-'12

5. Shane Gibson (29 gms) 498 - '10-'11

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