Pioneers Drop Northeast Conference Opener, 66-52, to Mount St. Mary’s

Guard Shane Gibson
Guard Shane Gibson

SHU Pioneers Drop Northeast Conference Opener, 66-52, to Mount St. Mary's

FAIRFIELD, CT (December 2, 2010) – Sacred Heart got a career-high 21 points from r-sophomore Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) but a strong shooting effort in the second half and a 21-of-27 night at the free throw line by Mount St. Mary's led to a 66-52 loss at the hands of the Mountaineers in the Northeast Conference for both teams Thursday night.  The Mount shot 50.0% (9-18) from the floor in the second half and got 21 points off the bench from junior Lamar Trice in the win.  SHU committed 19 turnovers and shot just 33.3% (18-54) as the fall to 1-5 on the season.

The Pioneers (1-5, 0-1 NEC) led for most of the first 12 minutes Thursday night, going up 16-12 at the eight minute mark on a fast-break lay-up by freshman Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT).  Gibson had the hot hand early, burying a pair of three's and a runner in the lane in the game's first five minutes.  The Mount offense got started off the Kelley transition bucket as Trice and Julian Norfleet hit back to back threes.

Kelly gave SHU the lead back but just briefly as he hit from underneath and then set up Gibson for a jumper on the wing for a 20-19 advantage with 4:29 on the clock.  MSM's David Golladay got an offensive put back on their ensuing possession and the Mount would never again give the lead back to the Pioneers the rest of the night.  Trice buried a three with 1:02 on the clock to finish the first half with 14 of his 21 points, sending his team into the locker room up 28-25 at the break.

The Mount (3-4, 1-0 NEC) hit nine-of-18 from the field in the second half but did most of their damage at the charity stripe, making 19 of 21 over the final 20 minutes.  SHU had nine of their turnovers in the second half that lead to 12 points at the other end.  The Pioneers on the other end continued to struggle offensively making just nine-of-28 from the field.  SHU cut the lead to two just over four minutes in and four just past the midway point of the second half but could never get over the hump.

Gibson's third three of the night pulled his team within 32-30 and a pair of r-sophomore Femi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia) free throws had SHU within 34-32 with 15:55 showing but that would be as close as the Pioneers would come.  Mount quickly push the lead to nine, 41-32 before a Jerrell Thompson (Plainfield, NJ) three was answered by a Trice triple.

SHU would make one last run as Thompson buried another three at 12:12 to cut it to 44-38 and junior Stan Dulaire (Bloomfield, CT) scored three-straight buckets to pull within 48-44.  Dulaire caught a fast break dunk, followed with a lay-up underneath and then had a shot at a three-point play getting fouled on a make at 9:14 down.  Dulaire missed the free throw and the Mount never looked back running their lead to double digits by the five minute mark thanks to an 11-5 run.  The Mount outscored the Pioneers 18-8 over the final nine minutes of the game.

Gibson's 21 point night came on eight-of-15 shooting from the field and three-of-six behind the arc.  Thompson added 14 points and grabbed five rebounds while r-freshman Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) came off the bench to grab nine rebounds.  The Pioneers held the edge on the glass, 33-29.  SHU pulled down 18 offensive caroms but could only come up with nine second chance points.

"Turnovers have been a problem for us all year," stated Gibson.  "We haven't taken care of the ball and it carries over.  Every game it seems to be the same story.  We just need to buckle down, take care of the ball and appreciate it when we have it."

"We can't harp on this.  We have to come ready to work tomorrow and get after it on Saturday."

The loss is the fourth-straight for Sacred Heart to the Mount and also snaps a five-game winning streak in NEC openers dating back to the 2005-06 season.  The Pioneers are 7-5 in league openers all-time as they begin their 13th season in the Northeast Conference.

The Pioneers are right back in Northeast Conference action Saturday afternoon playing host to the Wagner Seahawks.  Tip-off is at 2 pm in the William H. Pitt Center.