Pioneers Visit NEC Leader LIU Brooklyn on Thursday

SACRED HEART vs. LIU BROOKLYN

Game 28 * February 16, 2012 * Wellness Center * Brooklyn, NY * 7:00 pm

Full Set of Game Notes

The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers head to first place LIU Brooklyn on Thursday night.  The Pioneers have won three-straight and are coming off a NEC Rivalry Week sweep of Bryant where they shot a combined 58.7% over the two games.  Junior Shane Gibson led the way with back-to-back 30-point games in earning his third Choice Hotels NEC Player of the Week award.  Gibson's 22.1 per game average rank him fourth in the nation.  The Blackbirds have won five-straight and are coming off a Battle of Brooklyn sweep over St. Francis (NY).  LIU is 10-0 at home this season and have climbed to #21 in the recent College Insider Mid-Major Top-25 poll.

All-Time Series vs. LIU Brooklyn...  Thursday's game marks the 23rd meeting between the two schools with Long Island leading the all-time series 14-8.  The Blackbirds have won three-straight and four of the last five against the Pioneers.  LIU won in Fairfield earlier this season, 87-81.

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 519-475, 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.  Jim Ferry (Keene State '90) is in his 10th season at the helm of the Long Island men's basketball program.  He and the Blackbirds are coming off a 27-6 season where they took home the NEC Championship with a 16-2 mark.  He has led LIU to a 144-147 record over his 10 seasons.  Ferry is a two-time NEC Coach of the Year (2011, 2005) and was named the 2011 NABC District 18 Coach of the Year and the Peter A. Carlesimo Division I Coach of the Year.  Ferry also had head coaching stints at Plymouth State and Adelphi. 

Up Next...  SHU returns to Brooklyn on Saturday night to close out a three-game road swing facing St. Francis (NY) live on MSG Network.

Quick Hits...

- The Pioneers shot a blazing 58.7 percent from the floor combined in a two-game sweep Bryant during NEC Rivalry Week.  SHU shot a season-high 60.4% (29-48) in winning game one of the "New England Knockout" and came back to make 56.8% (25-44) on Saturday, marking their two top shooting performances this season.

- Junior Shane Gibson earned his third Choice Hotels NEC Player of the Week award after averaging 32.0 points and shooting 63.6% (21-33) against Bryant.

- Gibson continues to lead in the NEC scoring race, averaging 22.1 ppg.  That figure also ranks him fourth among the nation's leaders. 

- In NEC games, Gibson is averaging 25.9 ppg. He has scored 20 or more points in 12-of-14 league games and an NEC-best 18 times overall this season. The 18 games of 20+ points are the most by an NEC player since Quinnipiac's DeMario Anderson had 20 in 2007-08. - Gibson also leads the conference with four 30+ point outings.  He is coming off the first back-to-back 30 point games of his career, scoring 30 at home vs. Bryant and 34 on the road against the Bulldogs last time out.

- Gibson currently maintains the highest single-season average since 1998-99 when Ray Minlend (SFNY) also netted 25.9 ppg against NEC rivals.
- Junior Justin Swidowski averaged 13.5 ppg and made 12-of-14 shots against the Bulldogs.  Swidowski had a career-high 23 points in the last meeting with LIU Brooklyn.

- Playoff Push - The Pioneers sit tied with CCSU and Monmouth for sixth in the NEC standings with 7-7 records and four games to play.  Half of the eight team field is set with LIU Brooklyn, Wagner, St. Francis (NY) and Robert Morris having already clinched berths.  The Pioneers have missed the NEC Tournament the last two seasons.

- Injury Bug - Sophomore Chris Evans returned to the court at Bryant after missing four-straight games with a knee injury.  SHU continues to be without the services of senior guard Steve Zazuri

Last Meeting with LIU Brooklyn...  Sacred Heart junior Shane Gibson poured in 28 points for his fifth-straight 20-point game but it wouldn't be enough as the Pioneers came up short against the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds, 87-81, on January 5th at home.  The Blackbirds used a punishing inside game outscoring SHU 52-26 in the paint led by double doubles from junior forwards Jamal Olasewere and Julian Boyd on their way to a 3-0 NEC start.  Gibson finished 11-of-18 and hit six-of-nine behind the arc on his way to a 28 point night.  SHU made just five-of-seven at the free throw line while LIU Brooklyn hit 20-of-31.  Olasewere added 12 rebounds to his game-high 29 points as well as four steals and a pair of blocks.  Boyd scored 12 points and posted 12 rebounds.  The Blackbirds shot 48.5% (32-66) from the field in the win.  LIU sprinted out offensively and grabbed an early 14-point lead in the game's first five minutes and sat at 27-13 with just under 10 minutes left in the half when the Pioneers began to chip away.  Junior Justin Swidowski and sophomore Evan Kelley drilled back-to-back threes to cut the lead to 29-23.  Swidowski buried his second three of the half at 3:59 to pull SHU within 35-30 and then converted on a back-door pass from Phil Gaetano to slice the lead to just three, 37-34, with just over two to play in the half.  After a long Gibson three put the Pioneers down just a bucket, Swidowski made the comeback complete tying the score with a follow-up dunk on the fast break, knotting it at 39-39 with 48 seconds left.  Olasewere would give his team the lead into the locker room with an offensive put-back, 41-39.  He would finish with 11 points in the first half while Swidowski and Gibson each had 12 points.  SHU hit six-of-eight from behind the arch in the first stanza while LIU was just three-of-12.  The Pioneers would take their first lead of the night just over two minutes in to the second half as consecutive fast-break finishes from Swidowski left SHU up 47-45.  A Gibson three at the fifteen minute mark gave the Pioneers a 54-52 lead and another triple at 12:56 gave SHU their biggest lead at 59-55.  The two teams would tie the score four times before an Olasewere jumper put LIU up 68-66 with 4:53 left.  SHU sophomore Luis Montes knotted it a ninth time and then gave the Pioneers their final lead of the night thanks to a put-back and one at 4:26 for a 69-68 edge.  From there a couple of key plays swung the momentum to the Blackbirds who never looked back.  At 4:13, Gibson collected a long rebound off a missed three and looked headed for a fast break lay-up but was called for a push-off offensive foul en route.  With 3:37 left, sophomore Chris Evans was whistled for a flagrant one intentional foul on Gardner who hit the two free throws.  Getting to keep the ball, Olasewere drew a foul and hit a pair and the Blackbirds were off on a game-changing 7-0 spurt.  The Pioneers would be forced to foul down the stretch and the Blackbirds took care of business hitting 11 of 14 at the charity stripe in the closing 1:14 to seal the win.  Swidowski finished with a career-high 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting in the loss.

Facing the Blackbirds - Last 10 Meetings (LIU, 6-4)...

1/5/12       LIU 87             SHU 81         William H. Pitt Center

2/2/11       LIU 81             SHU 69         Wellness Center

2/11/10     LIU 81             SHU 75         William H. Pitt Center

2/7/09       SHU 101           LIU 72          William H. Pitt Center

1/5/09       LIU 74             SHU 67         Wellness Center

1/24/08     SHU 77            LIU 76          William H. Pitt Center

1/7/08       SHU 75            LIU 68          Wellness Center

2/2/07       SHU 80            LIU 72          William H. Pitt Center

2/4/06       LIU 80             SHU 65         William H. Pitt Center

1/26/06     LIU 63             SHU 60         Wellness Center

Scouting the Blackbirds...  The LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds showcase the NEC's top-ranked offense averaging 80.1 ppg and while shooting 47.0% as a team.  Junior Jamal Olasewere ranks fifth in the league in scoring (17.3) and rebounding (7.5).  He is third in the NEC in field goal percentage, making 57.3% (153-267) of his shots.  Fellow junior Julian Boyd is seventh at 16.8 ppg and second in rebounds at 9.3 rpg.  Sophomore guard Justin Brickman is the league's top-assist man, dishing 6.58 per outing.  He ranks second from behind the arc making 47.3% (43-91) of his threes.

Pioneers in the NEC...  Sacred Heart is in its 13th season of play in the Northeast Conference in 2011-12.  The Pioneers are 97-137 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

Gibson Among the NCAA Leaders...  Just as Shane Gibson has climbed to the top of the NEC scoring list, he is making his way up the NCAA's scoring charts as well.  Gibson ranks fourth among the nation's leaders at 22.1 ppg.  He ranks 13th in 3pt% (.443), 33rd in 3pt makes per game (2.7), 60th in FT% (.842) and 61st in FG% (.513).   

NCAA Scoring Leaders:  1. Damian Lillard, Weber State  25.1 ppg, 2. Reggie Hamilton, Oakland  24.6 ppg, 3. Doug McDermott, Creighton  22.9 ppg,  4. Shane Gibson, SHU, 22.1 ppg

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