FAIRFIELD, CT (February 25, 2012) – Sacred Heart senior Stan Dulaire (Bloomfield, CT) scored a career-high 17 points with six rebounds to guide the Pioneers to a 72-57 win over Saint Francis (PA) on "Senior Day" Saturday afternoon in the William H. Pitt Center. The Pioneers close out the regular season 14-17 overall and 8-10 in the NEC and will be the #8 seed in this week's conference tournament.
Junior Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) finished with 28 points, scoring 19 in the second half, to lead all scorers. Gibson finishes the regular season with 21 games scoring 20 or more points. He finished 10-of-17 from the field and hit four threes. Dulaire made all five shots hit took and hit a perfect seven-of-seven at the charity stripe on his way to 17.
Sacred Heart honored Dulaire along with fellow senior Steve Zazuri (Monroe, CT) and senior manager Andrew Owens, along with their families, before playing their final home game in a Pioneer uniform Saturday afternoon.
SHU (14-17, 8-10 NEC) as a team shot 49.1% (27-55) from the field and turned 15 Red Flash (6-22, 5-12 NEC) turnovers into 15 points at the other end. The Pioneers got off to about as slow a start as possible, falling behind 9-0 and going 0-for-7 over the first seven minutes. Freshman Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, CT) ended the drought at 12:46, burying a three from straight-away.
With Saint Francis (PA) up 16-11, the Pioneers put together a 9-2 spurt that gave them the lead for good. Junior Justin Swidowski (Cinnaminson, NJ) hit a lay-up to put SHU up 22-21 and gave the Pioneers a 28-25 lead at the half with a dunk off a feed from Dulaire.
The Pioneers wasted little time in extending their lead to start the second half, opening the first three and half minutes with a 13-4 run. Gibson buried a pair of threes and Swidowski chipped in with a triple to put the Pioneers up 41-31 at 16:32. The Red Flash chipped away and thanks to a pair of threes from Anthony Ervin, worked the SHU lead down to just three, 46-43, with 12:51 left.
Gibson had the answer and after a pair of free throws, drilled his third three to make it 51-43 and Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) made it a double digit lead for good with a jumper on the break at 10:03. Gibson's fourth three put the Pioneers up 15 with 6:42 left and Dulaire put the stamp on the win with a thunderous dunk at 2:20 for a 68-55 advantage en route to the win.
Swidowski also finished with double figures, scoring 13 points on six-of-10 shooting. Ervin finished with 20 for Saint Francis (PA).
The Pioneers move on to post season play for the first time since the 2009 season when they head to Brooklyn to face the #1 seed and defending NEC Champion LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds on Thursday night, March 1st.