Offensive Struggles Send SHU to 71-60 Loss at Holy Cross

WORCESTER, MA (December 9, 2011) – The Sacred Heart men's basketball team dug themselves a 15-point hole at the half and finished the night shooting a season-low 34.3% (23-67) on the way to 71-60 loss at the College of the Holy Cross Friday night.  The Pioneers, who have now lost three-straight, got a double double from junior Justin Swidowski (Cinnaminson, NJ) with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The Crusaders (4-6) got out early on the Pioneers (5-6) and built their biggest lead of the night in the first half at 18 points.  Holy Cross senior guard Devin Brown scored 13 of his game-high 22 points in the first half as the Crusaders shot a blistering 51.7% (15-29) over the first 20 minutes.  SHU, who turned it over nine times in the first half on the way to their lowest point total at the break this season as well as their largest halftime deficit, were hurt all night by transition buckets to the tune of 19 fast break points.

Sacred Heart's only lead of the night came in the game's first three minutes at 6-4 after a Swidowski jumper.  Holy Cross jumped in front 13-6 on a Brown three at 14:34 and increased the lead to 19-8 with 14 of those points coming in the paint.  The Crusaders made it an 18-2 run capped by a Brown lay-in at 9:59 for a 24-8 advantage. 

Brown drilled his third three of the half to give his team its biggest lead of the night at 33-15 and the Crusaders cruised into the half up 35-20.  On the flip side, SHU's top-scorer Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) was held scoreless in the first half, going 0-for-4.  It was the second time this season he has gone the first 20 minutes without a point (vs. Brown).

SHU was able to cut the Holy Cross lead down to single digits three times in the second half but could never get any closer then down nine.  Gibson made his first shot of the night, a three at the 15 minute mark to pull the Pioneers within 39-30.  Holy Cross answered with a 12-3 run to push their lead back to 18 with 10:39 left, 51-33.

Gibson, who scored all of his 14 points in the second stanza, again pulled the Pioneers to within nine, 61-52, hitting a pair of free throws at 4:11.  SHU had a shot to get closer with three-straight stops on defense but misses by Louis Montes (Brockton, MA), Swidowski and Chris Evans (Stamford, CT) sealed the Pioneers fate.  The Crusaders hit eight-of-10 at the free throw line over the final minutes to ice away the win.

Holy Cross got 10 points and six assists from freshman point guard Justin Burrell in the win. 

The Pioneers will turn around and face the Patriot League again on Sunday afternoon, playing host to the Lafayette Leopards in the Pitt Center at 3:30 pm.  The SHU women play in game one of the doubleheader facing the Cal Poly Mustangs at 1 pm.