FAIRFIELD, CT (January 26, 2013) - The Sacred Heart Pioneers closed out the final four minutes of Saturday's Northeast Conference game with Monmouth on a 15-0 run to come away with an 82-68 win in front of 1,614 fans in the William H. Pitt Center to move into a first place tie atop the league standings. Fueld by a season-high 33 points from senior Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) and 25 points from junior Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) the Pioneers improve to 6-2 over in the NEC.
The Pioneers (8-11, 6-2 NEC) trailed by 10 points with 12:48 to play in the second half and were down 68-67 with 4:51 left before putting the game away with the game-changing run late. The SHU defensive kept Monmouth off the scoreboard for the final 4:51 as Montes got the rally started with a three at 4:04. The junior forward scored nine of the Pioneers final 15 points to lead the way.
Montes finished nine-of-13 from the field and six-of-nine at the line on his way to 25 points. Gibson notched his second 30-point game of the year thanks to 24 points in the second half of Saturday's win. Gibson made just seven-of-17, four threes, but did his damage at the charity stripe where he went a career-best 15-of-17. Gibson also extended his streak to seven-straight games with 20-plus points, matching his longest streak from last season.
For the second-straight game, point guard Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, CT) eclipsed his career-high for assists. Gaetano dished out 13 helpers on Saturday, against just three turnovers, to go with five points and five rebounds.
The Pioneers shot the ball well in the first half, making 53.8 percent (14-26) but fell victim to eight turnovers that led to 12 Monmouth points. The Hawks got 10 points in the first 20 minutes from Dion Nesmith on their way to building a 40-35 lead at the break. MU did a good job of keeping Gibson in check in the first half, forcing him into three-of-seven shooting for nine points.
SHU pulled within 45-42 on a Gibson three at 16:24 but the Hawks responded with an 11-4 run over the next four minutes to take their biggest lead of the afternoon at 56-46. The Pioneers answered right back with a 12-2 run over their own and tied the game at 58-58 when Gibson was fouled on a three and sunk all three freebies. Gibson scored all 12 points on the run, seven coming at the free throw line.
The two teams traded the lead six times over the next four minutes when MU's Marcus Ware gave his team a 68-61 lead with 4:51 left, the final Hawk points of the night. Montes began the run at 4:04 with a three and added a pair of old fashioned three point plays on the closing rally to deliver the Pioneers their third-straight win.
Monmouth got 16 points from Nesmith and 11 points and seven rebounds from Stephen Spinella in the loss. Despite getting outrebounded by SHU, 37-34, the Hawks had 17 second chance points to just six for SHU.
The Pioneers move into a first place tie in the NEC standing with Bryant and Robert Morris, all 6-2 after Saturday.
Sacred Heart is on the road for a pair next week starting Thursday night at Wagner College. Tip-off is at 7:00 pm.