Pioneers Drop Overtime Thriller at CCSU, 82-80

NEW BRITAIN, CT (December 3, 2011) – Junior Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) poured in a season-high 32 points but the Sacred Heart Pioneers would come up just short of a 2-0 start to the Northeast Conference season, losing in overtime 82-80 at Central Connecticut Saturday afternoon.  SHU junior Justin Swidowski (Cinnaminson, NJ) posted his first double double of the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds as the Pioneers fall to 5-4 overall and 1-1 in the NEC.

The Blue Devils got 30 points apiece from the senior duo of Ken Horton and Robby Ptacek as they improve to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the NEC with their fifth-straight win.

 "It would have been a great game to win and it's a tough a tough one to lose," commented head coach Dave Bike.  "Shane made some big plays as did some of the other guys.  Central just made a few more.  That's all you can say about it.  They just did more."

CCSU jumped on the Pioneers early, running out to a 15-4 lead in the game's first six minutes.  SHU would chip away at that lead for much of the first half and cut it to three at the break, 31-28, thanks to outscoring Central 10-4 over the final five minutes.

Back-to-back lay-ups from Gibson and Swidowski out of the half pulled the Pioneers to within 33-32 but CCSU used a 14-3 run over the three and a half minutes.  With the Blue Devils up 47-35, Sacred Heart would make its move offensively, putting together a 27-9 run to grab an eight point lead with 5:26 left.  Swidowski scored nine on the run, including an old fashioned three-point play, while Gibson buried three's at 10:46 and 7:04.  The junior guard capped the rally with a lay-in off a feed from freshman Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, CT) to make 56-64.

Five straight points from the Blue Devils, including two free-throws from freshman Adonis Burbage and a three from Ptacek, cut it to one, 64-63 with just over three to play.  The Pioneers took a 68-65 lead with over a minute left on an Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) jumper, but another three from Ptacek tied the game with 1:10 on the clock.  Freshman Steve Glowiak (New Britain, CT) had a look at a three just before the horn but missed the mark sending it to an extra session.

SHU struck first in overtime on a Gibson jumper and led 72-71 on a senior Stan Dulaire (Bloomfield, CT) dunk.  Ptacek had the answer for CCSU, scoring eight of the 14 points in overtime for the Blue Devils, including his third three, as Central would pick up their third straight win over Sacred Heart.  Central would put the game away at the charity stripe in overtime, going seven-of-eight from the line.

Central outrebounded the Pioneers 45-34, including 10 from Horton who picked up his first double double of the year.  The Pioneers held Central's standout rookie Kyle Vinales in check with five points and five turnovers. 

The Pioneers shot 46.0% (29-63) but were just five-of-20 from behind the three-point line.  Gibson finished 13-of-22 and also collected four rebounds and a pair of assists and steals.  His 32 point effort marks the second 30-points game of his careers (34 vs. Wagner – 1/22/11).

Sacred Heart will play their third game in five days on Monday night when they host Yale in the William H. Pitt Center at 7 pm.