Sacred Heart Hangs On for 71-68 Win at Saint Francis (PA)

LORETTO, PA (January 12, 2012) – Sacred Heart's Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) poured in 26 points to lead the Pioneers to a 71-68 win at Saint Francis (PA) Thursday night, snapping a three-game Northeast Conference losing streak.  The Pioneers shot a season-high 56.1% (23-41) to overcome 22 turnovers as they improve to 8-10 overall and 2-3 in the NEC with the win.

Gibson made nine-of-12 from the field on his way to 26 points, his ninth 20-point game this season and sixth in the last seven games.  Gibson also had five steals as the Pioneers had a season-high 12 takeaways in the win.

With the game tied 11-11 in the early minutes, SHU's Steve Glowiak (New Britain, CT) finished off a three-point play off a steal and then drained a three from the right wing next time down to push SHU lead to 17-11 with 11 minutes left.  Junior Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) made it 20-11 with a three of his own.

The Pioneers (8-10, 2-3 NEC) extended their lead to 27-22 on Glowiak's second three and Gibson followed with a triple from the left corner for a 30-22 advantage with 4:10 left.  Gibson sliced his way to the rim for a lay-up on the break to give SHU their biggest lead of the half at 32-24 with 3:21 to go.

The Red Flash (3-13, 2-3 NEC) closed the gap, ripping off a 10-0 run to pull in front by a bucket with 15 ticks left.  Freshman guard Ollie Jackson capped the rally with a long three from the wing.  The Pioneers were able to answer back before the break as freshman Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, CT) was fouled at the top of the key just as he appeared to be hoisting a three to earn a trip to the line.  Gaetano knocked down all three and a Stephon Whyatt put back at the buzzer came too late to send the Pioneers into the locker-room up 35-34. 

The Red Flash got a steal and a Whyatt lay-in to start the second half to take a 36-35 lead as head coach Dave Bike used a time-out just 21 seconds in.  The Pioneers answered on a Gibson three from the left wing.  Chris Evans (Stamford, CT) knotted the game at 45-45 with a three of his own at 15:48.  Saint Francis used a 6-0 spurt and led by five, 50-45, with 11:48 left.

Back-to-back fast break lay-ins by Evans and Glowiak got the rally started and Gibson buried a fade-away jumper from the elbow for a 55-50 lead.  Jackson ended the SFU drought with a three to beat the shot clock at 9:50 but the Pioneers offense kept the pressure on extending their run to 16-3 as Gibson buried a three from the right corner with a hand in his face for a 61-53 lead with 7:50 left.

From there, the Pioneers went cold and didn't make a basket for nearly six minutes, giving the Red Flash the chance to climb all the way back and tie it at 62-62 with 2:28 left.  Kameron Ritter hit on a lay-in to tie it at 62-62 with 2:28 left.

Gaetano delivered the biggest shot of the night with 1:54 left, drilling a straight-away three for a 65-62 lead, one they Pioneers would not relinquish.  SHU hit six-of-six at the free throw line and despite a pair of Anthony Ervin three's, the Red Flash's last second chance to tie missed the mark to give the Pioneers the 71-68 win.

Glowiak came off the bench for 11 points while Gaetano finished with nine points and nine assists, both career-highs.

SHU will close out the Western Pennsylvania road swing with a stop at Robert Morris Saturday night.  Tip-off at the Sewall Center is 7:00 pm