FAIRFIELD, CT (January 3, 2013) - Sacred Heart junior Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) poured in a career-high 35 points to lead the Pioneers to a 77-73 win over two-time defending Northeast Conference Champion LIU Brooklyn Thursday night at home in the conference opener for both teams. The win snaps a season-long seven game losing streak and gets the Pioneers off to a 1-0 start to NEC play.
Montes hit 13-of-17 from the field including a pair of threes and went seven of eight at the charity stripe en route to a new career-high. He added in eight rebounds, five offensive, a pair of assists and steals and two huge blocks in the closing minute to help the Pioneers end a five-game slide against the Blackbirds.
The Pioneers (3-9, 1-0 NEC) rebounded from their worst offensive game of the year last time out at George Washington (38 pts/.237 FG%) by shooting a season-best 53.7 percent (29-54) from the field in the win. All five Pioneer starters knocked down a three as SHU made nine-of-17 from behind the arc (52.9) on the night.
The first half saw eight ties and four lead changes before the Pioneers closed out the first 20 minutes with a 7-0 spurt to take their first lead at the half this season, 38-31. Montes got the a dunk on the break to break a 31-31 tie with 2:23 left and senior Shane Gibson(Killingly, CT) close ouot the half with a three, a jumper at the elbow and a lay-in off a feed from point guard Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, CT) with four ticks left.
SHU got out quick to start the second half and forced a LIU time-out with 18:04 on the clock as Montes scored the first seven points of the half for SHU to give the Pioneers a 45-33 lead. Since the 2:23 mark in the first, the Pioneers outscored LIU 22-5 to build their biggest lead of the night at 53-36 with 14:07 left in the game.
The Blackbirds (5-8, 0-1 NEC) fought their way back in and tied the game at 59-59 with 6:34 left thanks to a 23-6 jaunt. The only SHU points during that span came on a pair of Steve Glowiak (New Britain, CT) three point makes.
With the game knotted at 61-61, LIU took their first lead since late in the first half as point guard Jason Brickman hit one of two at the line. The Pioneers answered by wrapping three's by Montes and Glowiak around a Booker Hucks tip-in to lead 67-64 with 4:02 left. The Blackbirds would take one final lead on a pair of Brickman free throws with 2:12 left, going up one, 67-68.
From there, the Pioneers closed it out getting a big put back and one from Montes at 1:55 to take the lead back. After a Hucks lay-in tied it at 70-70, Montes put SHU in front for good with a pair of free throws and then went to work on the defensive end. A Greenbacker lay-in gave SHU a 74-71 lead with 38 seconds left when Montes got a pair of blocks on the defensive end in the paint, grabbing the last rebound to seal the win.
In addition to Montes, Gibson and Glowiak both found double digits, finishing with 13 points apiece. Gaetano had six points and dished out 10 assists against just two turnovers for the Pioneers. SHU was effective in transition with 17 points on Thursday night.
The Blackbirds got 20 points from Hukcs off the bench as the LIU reserves outscored SHU's 26-1 in the loss. Brickman finished with 11 points and nine assists.
SHU is back at home on Saturday afternoon when they play host to the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers at 3:30 pm.