December 7, 2010

Pioneers Return Home for Instate Battle with Hartford on Wednesday Night

Sacred Heart Pioneers (1-7, 0-2 NEC) vs. Hartford Hawks (2-6, 0-0 America East)

Game #9 - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - 7:00 pm - Fairfield, CT - William H. Pitt Center (2,100)

SHU vs. Hartford Game Notes

The Storyline...  Sacred Heart is back at home on Wednesday night for an instate match-up with the Hartford Hawks.  The Pioneers have dropped three-straight since their 50-42 win over New Hampshire on November 23rd.  SHU is coming off a five-point loss at Lafayette on Monday, 76-71.  Senior Jerrell Thompson led all scorers with 19 points in the loss.  The Hartford Hawks lost at Florida State on Sunday, 60-38.  Hartford is 1-2 against the Northeast Conference this season, beating Saint Francis (PA), 60-55, but losing to Central Connecticut State, 64-62, and Quinnipiac, 66-64.  The Hawks will also face Monmouth and St. Francis (NY) this season.

Sacred Heart - Hartford All-Time Series...  This is the 17th all-time meeting between the two schools, dating back to 1970. Sacred Heart holds a 10-6 edge in the series after a 76-65 win at Hartford last season.  The Pioneers have played Hartford five times during SHU's Division I era (started 1999-00), losing four-straight to the Hawks before last season's win.

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 496-450, 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.  John Gallagher (Saint Joseph's '99) is in his first season at the helm of the University of Hartford men's basketball program.  Gallagher is the 10th coach in the 61-year history of the University of Hartford men's basketball program. He returns to the sidelines after spending two seasons as the Hawks' associate head coach from 2006-08. He spent the past two seasons on Glen Miller's staff at the University of Pennsylvania.

On the Upcoming Slate...  The Pioneers will head to Stony Brook on Saturday afternoon to face the Seawolves.  Saturday's game is being shown live on MSGPlus.  The Pioneers will then have eight days off for final exams before returning to action on Dec. 19th at Yale.

Scouting the Hawks...  The Hartford Hawks are off to a 2-6 start under first year head coach John Gallagher.  The Hawks own wins over Saint Francis (PA), 60-55, and Brown, 58-46, this season.  Senior forward Morgan Sabia leads the Hawks in scoring and rebounding averaging 14.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.  Senior guard Joe Zeglinski is averaging 14.0 points and has hit a team-high 20 three's.  Senior Milton Burton is also averaging double figures at 10.1 points per game and pulls down 6.3 rebounds per game.  The Hawks were picked to finish sixth in the America East Preseason Poll.

Last Meeting with the Hartford...  Senior Corey Hassan hit nine three pointers and finished with a game-high 29 points to lead the Pioneers to a 76-65 road win at the University of Hartford last December.  Hartford took a 20-12 lead with 10:32 to go in the first half after a Joel Barkers layup, but an 8-0 Pioneer run capped by a Ryan Litke trey tied the game at 20-20 with 8:15 to go.  Senior Chauncey Hardy gave the Pioneers a 38-35 lead with a three with :13 left before half but Andres Torres sent it to the intermission tied 38-38 with a three-point play just before the half.  Senior Joe Zeglinski, who finished with a team-best 25 points, gave the Hawks a 53-50 lead with 13:43 left in the game with a three but the Pioneers scored the next eight to take a five-point lead with 10:31 to go.   Hartford continued to scrap and took their final lead of the game at 59-58 with just over nine minutes left on another Zeglinski three. Joel Barkers stretched it to three with a layup with 8:40 to play.  Back-to-back treys from Hassan and Litke gave SHU the lead for good at 66-63. The Pioneer defense dug in from that point and held the Hawks scoreless for the final 6:01 of the game. Hartford was 0-8 from the field during that stretch.   The Pioneers hit seven free throws in the final 1:18 to salt the win away.

Pioneers vs. the America East...  Sacred Heart is 35-27 all-time against schools currently in America East. The Pioneers have faced every team from the league, posting winning records against Albany (8-5), Hartford (10-6), New Hampshire (1-0) and Stony Brook, is event with Binghamton (1-1) and have a losing record against Maine (0-3), UMBC (2-7) and Vermont (0-2).  

Last Time Out...  For the second-straight game, the Sacred Heart Pioneers battled back from a double digit second half deficit but came up short of a comeback victory falling at Lafayette Monday night, 76-71.  Senior Jerrell Thompson led all scorers with 19 points while r-freshman Louis Montes notched a season-high 13 points in the loss.  SHU trailed by 15 points with 13:54 left in the second half before coming storming back to take a 65-63 lead with 4:28 left.  Lafayette closed the game on 13-3 run before a Thompson three with a second left produced the final 76-71.  Lafayette got off on a 13-4 run to open the second half when their lead hit its high water mark at 55-40.  Thompson led the Pioneers on an 18-3 run over the next seven minutes with a lay-up and a jumper.  Montes got out on a fast break lay-up and then drilled a three to cut it to 57-54 at 8:31.  Freshman Evan Kelley cut it to two, 58-56, on a break-away lay-in and Montes pulled the Pioneers even with two free throws at 6:32.  Lafayette would pull back in front by four but SHU answered again and Stan Dulaire made a three-point play and followed with a put-back off a miss to give the Pioneers their first lead since the opening minutes at 65-63.  Lafayette came right down and answered as Rob Delaney drilled his fourth three of the night and the Leopards would never lose the lead again.  The Leopards put the game away at the free throw line making six-of-six over the last minute to seal the win.  The Pioneers did most of their work at the free throw line in the first half, going to the charity stripe 15 times while hitting 12.  SHU also dealt with foul trouble in the first half, as three SHU starters, Femi Akinpetide, Shane Gibson and Stan Dulaire all had to go to the bench at different points due two fouls.  The Pioneers had the hot hand in the second half, making 50.0% (14-28) from the field.  The Pioneers forced 17 turnovers in total by the Leopards and used them to the tune of 20 points at the other end.  SHU also held the advantage in the paint, outscoring Lafayette 30-20.

Guard Play...  The SHU starting guards, senior Jerrell Thompson and r-sophomore Shane Gibson, lead the Pioneers offensively early on.  Thompson is averaging 13.8 points per game and is also the team's top-rebounder at 5.5 per game.  Gibson is scoring at a 12.3 clip per game.  Both own a 20-point performance this season.  Gibson threw in a career-high 21 points in the loss to Mount St. Mary's.  Thompson scored 24 points to lead the Pioneers to their lone win this season, 50-42, over New Hampshire.

Shuffling the Lineup...  Head coach Dave Bike has used six different line-ups in eight games this season as he tries to find the right mix with his young squad.  Senior guard Jerrell Thompson and r-sophomore guard Shane Gibson have been the only two constants in the starting line-up this season, earning the starting nod in all eight games.  The duo has rewarded the coach's decision, leading the team in scoring as the only two Pioneers in double figures.

Stan "The Man" Dulaire...  Junior forward Stan Dulaire cracked the starting line-up for the first time in his career in game three at UMass and had been a mainstay ever since.  Dulaire brings a high level of energy to the court and is averaging 6.6 points and 4.3 rebounds.  Dulaire is leading the Pioneers with a 55.0% (22-40) field goal percentage.