FAIRFIELD, CT (December 8, 2010) – Sacred Heart junior Stan Dulaire (Bloomfield, CT) sank a free throw with 0.2 seconds left to give the Pioneers their one and only lead of the night to complete a 20-point comeback in beating the University of Hartford, 56-55, Wednesday night at the William H. Pitt Center. The Pioneers trailed 51-31 with 8:17 left to play before Dulaire got fouled on a break-away lay-up as time was about to expire to set up the game winning free throw.
"We were down 20 and coach said it's all about heart and defense," stated Dulaire. "Jerrell (Thompson) got the steal and was pushing it. I just saw daylight so I just tried to beat my man and I was able to get to the rim. This win gets this thing heading in the right direction."
"We look at the Wagner and Lafayette games were we came back, but fell short," commented head coach Dave Bike. "It's nice to not just say we battled back and fought but lost. Tonight, it's nice to battle back and win."
The Pioneers (2-7) struggled mightily in the first half, scoring just 18 points while shooting just 28.6% (6-21) to trail 25-18 at the break. Hartford opened the game burying their first five shots including back-to-back three's by Joe Zeglinski to force a SHU timeout with 16:11 on the clock. The Pioneers fell behind by as many as nine points but pulled within 20-18 with 2:39 on the clock. Hartford closed the half with a three from Morgan Sabia and a jumper from Joe Nardi to beat the halftime horn.
The Hawks (2-7) continued their sharp shooting to start the second half as Genesis Maciel made a trio of threes and Zeglinski buried his third of the night in the first five minutes of play. Hartford's lead hit 20 at 11:07, 43-23, before SHU briefly cut it to 14 on a 6-0 spurt capped by a Dulaire fast break dunk. Zeglinski buried his fourth triple of the night and then pushed the lead back to 20 on his fifth make from behind the arc at 8:17, 51-31. That would be the last Hartford field goal until 1:11 left as the Pioneers held the Hawks to just a free throw during a 19-1 run to help pull off the stunning comeback win.
SHU began their rally with a Dulaire lay-up at 8:05 and was helped but some excellent free throw shooting. The Pioneers went to the line 16 times over the final eight minutes, making 13 to help fuel the comeback. Freshman Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) and senior Jerrell Thompson (Plainfield, NJ) went two-for-two at the line on consecutive possession to pull the Pioneers within 52-50 with 1:41 left. The Hawks were patient on offense and got a cutting lay-up from Clayton Brothers, who drew a foul and completed the three-point play for a 55-50 advantage with 1:11 left.
The Pioneers missed a pair of jumpers and were forced to foul with 50 seconds left. The Hawks missed the front end of the one-and-one and Sacred Heart's Gibson corralled the rebound. Thompson buried a jumper with 38 ticks left to pull SHU within 55-52. The Hawks again missed the front end of the one-and-one with Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) collecting another rebound. Thompson again came up with the big shot, drilling a straight-on three with 24 seconds left to tie the game at 55-55.
Hartford held for the last shot and Brothers made his move in the waning second but Thompson picked his pocket, coming up a steal and quickly getting the ball up court to a streaking Dulaire who got to the hoop drawing an intentional our call on Brothers with 0.2 left on the game clock. Dulaire calmly buried the first to deliver the Pioneers the 56-55 win.
Shane Gibson led the Pioneers with 16 points while grabbing two of his four rebounds in the closing seconds. Thompson totaled 11 points, all in the second half, to go with four assists and two steals, none bigger than his swipe of Brothers to set up the winning play.
Dulaire scored a season-high 12 points with six rebounds. The Pioneers held a 33-29 edge on the glass.
Zeglinski scored 16 points for Hartford while Sabia had 13 points with seven rebounds. Despite going almost seven minutes without a field goal in the second half, the Hawks still managed to shoot 50% over the final 20 minutes. The Hawks hurt themselves with 11 of their 16 turnovers coming in the second half, leading to 14 Sacred Heart points.
The Pioneers will travel to Stony Brook on Saturday afternoon for a2 pm tip-off. The game will be televised live locally on MSGPlus.