SACRED HEART vs. ST. FRANCIS (NY)
Game 29 * February 18, 2012 * Pope P.E. Center * Brooklyn Heights, NY * 7:00 pm
TV: MSG Network
The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers make their NEC TV debut on Saturday night facing St. Francis (NY) live on MSG Network. The Pioneers saw their three-game winning streak snapped on Thursday night falling in overtime, 103-91, to conference leader LIU Brooklyn. SHU continues the hunt for a NEC Tournament spot, entering Saturday's game tied for seventh in the standings with Monmouth at 7-8. The St. Francis Terriers are tied for third in the standing with Robert Morris at 11-4 and are coming off a 64-56 win at Quinnipiac on Thursday.
Sacred Heart - SFNY All-Time Series... Saturday night is the 22nd meeting between the two schools with St. Francis (NY) holding an 11-10 edge thanks to a 99-84 win in Fairfield back in January. The Terriers have won two-straight after snapping a SHU four-game winning streak in the series.
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 519-476, 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. Glenn Braica (Queens College '89) is in his second season as head coach at St. Francis (NY) College. Braica led his Terriers to a 15-15 mark in year one and the #5 seed in the NEC Tournament in 2011. Braica was named the school's 17th head coach after spending the previous seven years as an assistant at St. John's. He spent 15 years as an assistant and associate head coach at St. Francis (NY).
Up Next... Sacred Heart returns home for the final two regular season games of 2011-12. The Pioneers host Robert Morris on Thursday, February 23rd and Saint Francis (PA) on Saturday, February 25th live on MSG Plus.
- Junior Shane Gibson has been named a finalist for the 2012 Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Year Award. Gibson is one of 25 finalists that also include LIU Brooklyn's Julian Boyd for the award presented by College Insider.
- Overtime Blues - The Pioneers lost their third NEC game in overtime this season on Thursday night at LIU Brooklyn, 103-91. SHU has lost seven-straight overtime games dating back to 2008. Their last overtime win came at Columbia (84-79). The Pioneers have lost 11-straight overtime decisions to NEC opponents. You have to go back to a 133-130 four overtime win at home over Fairleigh Dickinson on December 1, 2001 for the only SHU overtime win over an NEC school. SHU is 1-12 since joining the league in overtime conference games.
- The Pioneers are on a three-game streak of shooting 50.0% or better as a team. SHU hit 52.9% (37-70) as team on Thursday night. During NEC Rivalry Week, the Pioneers shot a season-high 60.4% (29-48) in winning game one and came back to make 56.8% (25-44) on Saturday, marking their two top shooting performances this season. SHU is 5-5 this season in games when they shot 50.0% or better.
- 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 22.2 ppg. That figure also ranks him fourth among the nation's leaders.
- In NEC games, Gibson is averaging 25.8 ppg. He has scored 20 or more points in 13-of-15 league games and an NEC-best 19 times overall this season. The 19 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 currently maintains the highest single-season average since 1998-99 when Ray Minlend (SFNY) also netted 25.8 ppg against NEC rivals.
- Junior Justin Swidowski matched his career-high of 23 points on Thursday night at LIU Brooklyn. Swidowski had 23 in the first meeting at home with the Blackbirds back in January.
- Sophomore guard Evan Kelley played a career-high 43 minutes at LIU Brooklyn and finished with 15 points and a career-high eight rebounds.
- Playoff Push - The Pioneers sit tied with Monmouth for seventh in the NEC standings with a 7-8 record and three games to play. They have a two game lead over Mount St. Mary's (5-10) in ninth. 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.
Last Meeting with St. Francis (NY)... The Sacred Heart offense shot 51.7% (30-58) but was out gunned by the St. Francis (NY) Terriers who shot a scorching 58.2% including 15-of-27 from three on the way to a 99-84 win in the Pitt Center on January 7th. The Terriers were led by guard Ben Mockford who buried eight-of-13 from behind the arc on his way to a game-high 28 points. The Pioneers had four players score double figures led by a career-high 24 points from sophomore Chris Evans. St. Francis-NY blew the game open in the first half with sharp shooting from three (10-16) to lead 53-31 at the break. Tied at 8-8 in the early minutes, the Terriers made their first move with a 13-3 run fueled by a three by Stefan Perunicic and two from Mockford for a 21-11 lead at 14:25. An Evans lay-up and one with 11:33 on the clock pulled the Pioneers within nine, 28-19, with 11:33 to go and that would be the closest SHU would get the rest of the afternoon. The Terriers would outscore the Pioneers 25-12 the rest of the first half, continuing to rain down the threes. P.J. Santavenere drilled a triple as well as Travis Nichols and Brent Jones. Perunicic put the stamp on the first half with a long three from the wing and SFNY led 53-29. SHU finished the half shooting just 39.3% while the Terriers saw five different players drill three's over the first 20 minutes. The second half saw more of the same for the Pioneers as Perunicic got fouled shooting a three on their first possession, hitting all three free throws to give the Terriers their biggest lead of the day at 56-31. The closest the Pioneers could get in the second half was down 14 with just over two minutes left. The Terriers also had four players in double figures as Perunicic threw in 21 points while Akeem Johnson and Matt Milk scored 10 points each.
Facing the Terriers - Last 10 Meetings (SHU, 6-4)...
1/7/12 SFNY 99 SHU 84 William H. Pitt Center
2/5/11 SFNY 78 SHU 51 Pope PE Center
2/13/10 SHU 62 SFNY 50 Pitt Center
2/26/09 SHU 76 SFNY 73 Pope PE Center
1/29/09 SHU 71 SFNY 51 Pitt Center
2/2/08 SHU 63 SFNY 59 Pope PE Center
1/10/08 SFNY 73 SHU 63 Pitt Center
1/6/07 SHU 63 SFNY 58 Pope PE Center
2/21/06 SHU 81 SFNY 73 Pitt Center
2/11/06 SFNY 62 SHU 58 Pope PE Center
Scouting the Terriers... The St. Francis (NY) Terriers have clinched a spot in the NEC Tournament with an 11-4 league mark as they play for seeding down the stretch. The Terriers have been one of the surprises in the league this season after being tabbed to finish 11th in the Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Terriers have a balanced offensive attack with sophomore Ben Mockford and senior Stefan Perunicic averaging 11.8 ppg and junior Akeem Johnson posting 11.7 ppg. Johnson is second in the NEC making 60.1% (104-173) of his shots. Pernunicic is fourth in the league from behind the arc making 41.9% (65-155). Freshman Jalen Cannon is fourth among the NEC's top-rebounders pulling down 8.1 caroms per game.
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 22.2 ppg. He ranks 15th in 3pt% (.443), 26th in 3pt makes per game (2.8), 55th in FT% (.842) and 59th in FG% (.511).
NCAA Scoring Leaders:
1. Damian Lillard, Weber State 24.8 ppg
2. Reggie Hamilton, Oakland 24.8 ppg
3. Doug McDermott, Creighton 22.7 ppg
4. Shane Gibson, SHU, 22.2 ppg
Chasing the SHU 3-pt Record... - Shane Gibson is closing in on the SHU school record for three-point field goals in a season. He comes in to Saturday with 78 three's this season, fourth on the all-time list. John Randazzo holds the record with 91 in 1998-99.
1. John Randazzo (27 gms) - 91 - '98-'99
2. Corey Hassan (28 gms) - 90 - '09-'10
3. Ryan Litke (29 gms) - 85 - '09-'10
4. Shane Gibson (28 gms) - 78 - '11-'12