FAIRFIELD, CT (December 4, 2010) – The Sacred Heart Pioneers battled back from down 10 points in the second half to lead by five late but couldn't hold off a furious Wagner rally to force overtime, losing 73-68 in Northeast Conference action Saturday afternoon at the William H. Pitt Center. The Seahawks never trailed in the overtime and outscored the Pioneers 13-8 during the extra session. The loss drops the Pioneers to 0-2 in the Northeast Conference and 1-6 overall on the year.
The Pioneers (1-6, 0-2 NEC) found themselves in a 10-point hole with 12:01 left in the second half, 45-35, before responding with a 17-3 run to take their first lead since late in the first half. SHU r-sophomore Femi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia) helped fuel the rally with a pair of lay-ups underneath and brought the Pioneers all the way back completing a three-point play with 2:48 left for a 50-48 lead. Freshman Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) got out on a fast break off a steal and pushed the lead to 52-48 and the Pioneers built their lead to five, 58-53, with 47 seconds to go.
Wagner (4-3, 1-0 NEC) got a quick three from Tyler Murray and after a pair of senior Jerrell Thompson (Plainfield, NJ) free throws pushed the SHU lead to 59-56, Latif Rivers drilled another from downtown to pull the Seahawks to within 60-59 with 24 ticks left. The Pioneers got the ball into Thompson who got bottled up at half where he was whistled for a backcourt violation trying to avoid the Wagner trap. The Seahawks went to Murray in the closing seconds and the junior got fouled on his way to the hoop. He missed the first and got the shooter's roll on the second to knot the game at 60-60 with eight seconds left. SHU was forced to settle for desperation three by freshman Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) that was blocked sending the two teams to overtime.
The Seahawks struck first in overtime as Murray got a steal and fed Ryan Schrotenboer for a break-away lay-up. SHU tied it at 62-62 as Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) hit a leaner underneath but Wagner would pull away from there. Murray hit a lay-up and the Seahawks closed out the game hitting seven-of-10 at the line for the 73-66 win.
The Pioneers opened Saturday's game strong building an 11-4 lead in the games first six minutes. Wagner began to chip away and with the game tied 21-21 at 3:52 the used a 10-2 run to build their biggest lead of the half with 1:10 left, 31-23. Gibson closed the first half scoring with a three to pull SHU within 31-26 at the break. The Pioneers were plagued by poor shooting at the charity stripe in the first half, hitting just seven-of-14.
Sacred Heart got off to a slow start to the second half, making just two field goals in the first eight minutes of action. Wagner took advantage in building their biggest lead of the day, 45-35, before the Pioneers began to mount their comeback.
Gibson led four Pioneers in double figures with 17 points adding five rebounds and three steals to his totals. Thompson finished with 13 points and eight rebounds while Akinpetide came up with 13 points off the bench before fouling out. Kelley hit for 11 points. The Pioneers shot 36.4% (20-55) in the loss but outrebounded the Seahawks, 39-38.
Wagner got a game-high 23 points from Murray and 21 from Rivers who made nine-of-10 at the free throw line. Murray added 10 rebounds for a double double and also dished four assists. The Seahawks made 26-of-32 at the line in the win.
Sacred Heart hits the road on Monday night traveling to Lafayette for a 7:00 pm start.