Pioneers Open NEC Play Hosting Mount St. Mary's

 Sacred Heart Pioneers (1-4, 0-0 NEC) vs. Mt. St. Mary's Mountaineers (2-4, 0-0 NEC)

Game #6 - Thursday, December 2, 2010 - 7:00 pm - Fairfield, CT - William H. Pitt Center (2,100)   

SHU vs. Mount St.  Mary's Game Notes

The Storyline...  Sacred Heart will open the 2010-11 Northeast Conference schedule on Thursday night, returning to action hosting Mount St. Mary's.  The Pioneers are coming off an eight day break after beating New Hampshire, 50-42, on November 23rd and now enter a stretch where they will play their next five games in 10 days.  Senior point guard Jerrell Thompson led the Pioneers against UNH scoring 24 of Sacred Heart's 50 points to earn the Choice Hotels NEC Player of the Week award.  The Mount is 2-2 in their last four games and come in off an 81-68 loss at home to Navy on Monday night.

Sacred Heart - Mount All-Time Series...  This is the 23rd meeting between these schools and The Mount holds a 15-7 advantage and has won three-straight meetings.  Mount St. Mary's swept last season's two meetings, winning 69-65 in Fairfield and 64-52 at home.  The Pioneers and Mountaineers have played twice in the postseason with Mount St. Mary's winning both meetings.  The Mount knocked the Pioneers out of the 2009 tournament with a 68-63 win at home in the semifinals.  They also met in the 2008 NEC Championship with the Pioneers falling at home, 68-55.  The two teams have met twice before in NEC season openers, splitting both meetings.  Mount beat SHU 80-75 back on Dec. 4, 2008 the last time the two school opened the conference slate against each other.

The Coaches...  Dave Bike (Sacred Heart '69) is in his 33rd year as the head coach of Sacred Heart. He has a career record of 496-447, ranking him 20th among active coaches. Only Jim Boheim of Syracuse as spent more time coaching at one institution. He led the Pioneers to eight NCAA Division II tournaments and his 1985-86 team won the national championship while finishing 30-4. Bike was named the national Coach of the Year by the NABC following the title game.  Robert Burke (Haverford '88) takes over the head coaching job at Mount St. Mary's this season.  Burke brings 22 seasons of experience as an assistant coach on the Division I level.  Burke had stops at American University and also spent time at Georgetown and Princeton.

On the Upcoming Slate...  The Pioneers will play host to the Wagner Seahawks in a NEC match-up this Saturday at 2 pm.  SHU will not return to NEC play full-time until January 6th at Fairleigh Dickinson.

Scouting Mount St. Mary's...  Mount St. Mary's opens their NEC season off to a 2-4 start to the season.  The Mount owns wins over Savannah State, 68-62 in overtime, and Florida A&M, 70-61, under first year head coach Robert Burke.  Senior forward Shawn Atupem leads the Mount in both scoring and rebounding at 13.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.  Freshman guard Julian Norfleet is off to a hot start to his collegiate career, averaging 11.2 points with 15 three's through six games. 

Last Meeting with the Mount...  Freshman Raven Barber scored a career-high 15 points as Mount St. Mary's took advantage of 22 Sacred Heart University turnovers dealing the Pioneers a 64-52 setback loss on January 28, 2010. Senior Corey Hassan scored the first five points of the game to go over 1,000 for his Pioneer career, but the Mount used a 19-3 run to open up a 19-8 lead seven minutes in. The Mountaineers took their biggest lead at 33-16 with 6:28 left in the half after a Danny Thompson free throw.  The Pioneers used a 15-4 explosion into the break to close the gap to 37-31 at the intermission. In fact, SHU scored the final eight points of the half in last 1:53. After a Stan Dulaire dunk, the Pioneers got a trey from Ryan Litke, followed by an offensive rebound and layup by Hassan. The senior put the exclamation point on the run by burying a three with :06 left.  Litke hit a three to start the second half to cut the Mount lead to three. A Liam Potter dunk with 15:46 to play got the Pioneers all the way back and gave them a 40-39 lead and Hassan followed with a layup to give SHU a three-point advantage at 42-39 with 13:54 left.   Jean Cajou cut the Pioneer edge to one with a steal and a layup. Kelly Beidler gave the Mountaineers the lead back at 44-42 with a three with 11:30 left in the game. That shot propelled The Mount to a 21-4 run over the next eight minutes that opened up a 62-46 lead and put the Pioneers away.

Last Time Out...  Sacred Heart senior Jerrell Thompson scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help the Pioneers overcome 22 turnovers and some poor second half shooting en route to their first win of the season, 50-42, over visiting New Hampshire.  The Pioneers dominated on the boards, outrebounding the Wildcats 44-30 in the win.  The Pioneers had a strong first half, shooting 41.4% (12-29) from the field while knocking down 10 of 14 at the free throw line in building a 36-19 lead at the half.  Junior Stan Dulaire gave the Pioneers a spark on offense, scoring all of his season-high 11 points in the first half.   The tables turned for the Pioneers in the second half as SHU turned the ball over 15 times and shot just 14.3% (2-14) needing to rely on their defense to carry them to the win.  Luckily for the Pioneers, New Hampshire failed to capitalize, shooting just 26.9% (7-26) while going nearly 10 minutes without a field goal on the way to their first loss of 2010-11. Sacred Heart came out of the locker room and turned the ball over eight times in the first five minutes of action as New Hampshire came out and pulled within 36-27 during that stretch.  Thompson hit the Pioneer's first field goal of the second half at 14:55 to put Sacred Heart in front 38-27.  SHU only managed to get six shots off by the 10 minute mark but the closest the Wildcats could cut the lead was to four.  UNH's Dane DiLiegro hit a lay-up off a feed from Tyrone Conley at 9:59 to pull his team within 40-36 but that would be the last field goal the Wildcats would make until 21 seconds left in the game.  In between SHU pushed the lead to 44-36 at the free throw line before Thompson would end a Pioneer span of 12:26 with their only other field goal of the second half, a jumper for a 46-38 lead with 2:29 left.  DeAndray Buckley made it 47-40 SHU with a lay-up at the 21 second mark but Thompson made three-of-four at the charity stripe in the closing seconds to salt away the win.

NEC Openers...  The Sacred Heart Pioneers are 7-4 in Northeast Conference openers since joining the league in 1999-2000.  SHU has won five-straight NEC openers heading into Thursday night's game with Mount St. Mary's.  The Pioneers are 4-2 in league openers at home in the Pitt Center and 3-2 on the road.   

SHU's Thompson Named NEC Player of the Week...  Senior Jerrell Thompson took home his first career Choice hotles Northeast Conference Player of the Week award after leading the Pioneers to a 50--42 win over New Hampshire last week.  Thompson, a senior guard, finished with a season-high 24 points and just missed his first career double-double with nine rebounds.  He converted 7-15 shots from the field, along with 2-5 from three-point range and 8-11 from the line.  With the Pioneers struggling offensively in the second half, it was the Plainfield, NJ product who accounted for the team's only two field goals after intermission, including a key jumper with 2:28 to play to extend the Pioneer lead to eight points.  He also hit seven of his 10 free throws in the second stanza to help keep the Wildcats at bay.  On the year, Thompson leads the team with 12.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 2.2 apg.