SMITHFIELD, RI (February 11, 2012) – Sacred Heart junior Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) scored 23 of his game-high 34 points in the first half to lead the Pioneers to a Northeast Conference Rivalry Week sweep of Bryant University, 72-46, Saturday afternoon. SHU shot 56.8% (25-44) as team to win the "New England Knockout" and improve to 13-14 overall and 7-7 in the NEC.
Gibson, who did not start on Saturday, entered the basketball game with the Pioneers down 11-6 with 11:42 on the clock and kicked the Pioneer offense into high gear as SHU outscored Bryant 37-9 through the first two minutes of the second half. Gibson finished 11 of 17 from the field and nine of 10 at the free throw line on the way to his second-straight 30-point effort. In two games against the Bulldogs this week, Gibson scored a combined 64 points, making 20 of 33 from the field.
SHU got off to a slow start, taking just one shot, a Justin Swidowski (Cinnaminson, NJ) turnaround, in the first four minutes while battling turnovers. The Pioneers turned the ball over eight times in the first eight minutes and Bryant went up 11-6 at 11:42 on a Troy Robinson baseline jumper. From there, Gibson took the game over.
The junior guard scored 11-straight points for the Pioneers and finished the first half with 23 of SHU's 34 points. He got the run started with a three-point play opportunity and followed with a fade away from the right wing to tie it at 11-11. After a pair of free throws, Gibson buried one from the right corner then came off a screen at the top of the key for another easy two. A long three with Erick Smith in his face gave the Pioneers a 24-16 and his second three of the half put the Pioneers up 32-20. He closed out the finished the half with a bank with six seconds left off a no-look pass from freshman Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, CT).
Sacred Heart shot a blistering 61.1% in first half with Gibson taking nine shots and making seven. The Pioneers left no doubt and no room for a Bryant comeback, opening the second half with a 9-0 spurt to build a lead that would never dip below 20-points the rest of the way. Senior Stan Dulaire (Bloomfield, CT) and Swidowski opened the half with back-to-back lay-ups for a 40-20 lead and a Swidowski three gave SHU a 43-20 advantage two minutes in.
Sophomore Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) hit on a dribble drive for 25-point lead five minutes in and Gibson would push it to 52-28 with 13 minutes left thanks to his third three of the afternoon. The Pioneer lead would hit the 29-point mark with three minutes left en route to their largest margin of victory this season.
Joining Gibson in double figures was Swidowski who finished with 12 points. SHU took advantage of 21 Bryant turnovers to the tune of 20 points at the other end.
The Pioneers stay on the road and head to Brooklyn next week for two games. SHU is at LIU Brooklyn on Thursday night and face St. Francis-NY on Saturday live on MSG TV.