January 14, 2011

SHU Plays Host to the Bryant Bulldogs Saturday Afternoon

Sacred Heart Pioneers (7-9, 2-3 NEC) vs. Bryant Bulldogs (4-13, 2-3 NEC)

Game #17 - Saturday, January 15, 2011 - 3:30 pm -Fairfield, CT - William H. Pitt Center (2,100)

 SHU vs. Bryant Game Notes

The Storyline...  The Sacred Heart Pioneers play host to the newest member of the Northeast Conference on Saturday in Bryant University.  The Pioneers are looking to bounce back after Thursday's 88-75 loss at the hands of NEC in-state rival Central Connecticut State.  SHU shot better than fifty percent for the second-straight game, making 51.8% (29-56), but allowed a season-high 88 points defensively in the loss.  Sophomore Shane Gibson continued to have the hot hand offensively, scoring a career-high 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting on the night.  Gibson has eclipsed the 20-point mark in five of his last six games and has set new career scoring highs on three different occasions this season.  Bryant comes in riding high after a 69-61 comeback win at NEC preseason favorite Quinnipiac on Thursday night.  The Bulldogs trailed 23-3 early and 36-15 at the half before staging a stunning second half comeback.  Bryant made a staggering 30 for 41 at the free throw line in winning their second-straight game for the first time since the 2008-09 season.

Sacred Heart - Bryant All-Time Series... Saturday's game marks the 20th meeting between Sacred Heart and Bryant all-time.  The Pioneers lead the series 12-8 and have beating Bryant four-straight times since the Bulldogs made the move to Division I.  Prior to the 2008-09 season, the two teams hadn't met on the hardwood since the 1997-98 campaign when SHU defeated Bryant 83-67 in the Pitt Center in the final game of the season.

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 502-452, 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.  Tim O'Shea (Boston College '84) is in his third season on the Bryant University bench.  Prior to becoming the seventh head coach in Bulldog program history, O'Shea spent seven seasons as the head coach at Ohio University where he recorded a 120-95 record.  He led the Bobcats to the 2004-05 MAC Championship and spot in the NCAA Tournament.  He had assistant coaching stints at Yale, Rhode Island and Boston College.

In the Upcoming Slate... Sacred Heart hits the road next week for return match-ups with Mount St. Mary's and Wagner.  The Pioneers lost to both teams back in early December at home.

Scouting the Bulldogs...  The Bryant Bulldogs come in at 4-13 but have posted two-straight NEC wins to up their league mark to 3-2.  The Bulldogs come in off a 69-61 win at Quinnipiac on Thursday night.  Freshman Alex Francis is one of the NEC's top-rookies averaging 14.6 points per game, 11th among league leaders.  Francis is also one of the NEC's top-rebounders pulling down 8.1 caroms per game.  R-Sophomore Frankie Dobbs is the top assist man in the Northeast Conference, dishing 5.47 helpers per game.  Dobbs averages 13.1 points per game, shooting 41.5% (39-94) from behind the three-point line.  Dobbs is an 82.7% (43-52) free throw shooter on the year.  The Bulldogs will not be eligible for the NEC Tournament until the 2012-13 season as the continue the reclassification process to Division I status.

Last Meeting with Bryant...   Senior Corey Hassan poured in a game-high 26 points, while senior Ryan Litke added 21 to lead the Sacred Heart Pioneers to an 84-60 win over visiting Bryant University last January 21st.  An early 11-0 run by the Pioneers opened up a 16-5 lead and Sacred Heart never looked back. SHU shot 58 percent in the first half and led 45-29 at the intermission. The Pioneers didn't commit their first turnover until the final five seconds of the first half.  Sacred Heart outscored the Bulldogs 20-5 to start the second half to stretch the lead to 65-34.  The Pioneers shot a season high 57.1% (32-56) from the field for the game, including 11-20 (55%) from three-point range.  Vladysla Kondratyev made eight of 11 on the way to a 20 point afternoon.  The Bulldogs turned it over 16 times in the loss and were outrebounded 32-20.

Last Time Out...  It was a tale of two halves for Sacred Heart Thursday night as the Pioneers saw their six-point halftime lead erased as Central Connecticut State put up 54 points in the second half on the way to an 88-75 win in the William H. Pitt Center.  The Pioneers had 11 of their 20 turnovers in the second half and allowed a season-high 88 points in the loss.   Sophomore Shane Gibson poured in a career-high 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting including five three's.  Gibson has scored 20 or more points in six of his last seven games.  He buried four-of-five from behind the arc in the first half and helped fuel a 16-0 run that erased an eight point deficit and gave the Pioneers a 40-32 lead.  CCSU opened the game making 10 of their first 13 shots building a 21-11 lead nine minutes in while forcing the Pioneers to use three of their timeouts during that span.  The Pioneers went to the three to fuel their rally, hitting four-straight from downtown on a 16-0 run.  SHU shot 53.8% (15-28) in the first half and eight-of-12 from behind the arc.  Coming into Thursday's game, CCSU had allowed opponents to make just 10 of 60 from three in their four NEC contests this season.  The Pioneers opened the second half cold offensively and CCSU took advantage tying the game at 44-44 with a 10-4 run over the first three minutes.  With the game knotted at 48-48, the Blue Devils took the lead back for good on a Shemik Thompson put back.  Consecutive three's from Horton and Robby Ptacek put Central up 63-56 with 10 minutes to play and the Blue Devils pulled away, running their lead to 80-65 over a four minute stretch with a 13-3 run.  CCSU used the Pioneers 20 turnovers to the tune of 23 points at the other end and did much of their damage around the rim with 46 points in the paint.  Ken Horton led the way with 27 points while Robby Ptacek hit for 25 points.  Sacred Heart shot over 50.0% for the second-straight game, making 29-of-56 but managed just one-of-seven from behind the arc in the second half.

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