FAIRFIELD, CT (January 15, 2011) –Sacred Heart suffered through a 27.4% (20-73) shooting effort while the Bryant Bulldogs hit for 55.6% dealing the Pioneers a 72-59 Northeast Conference loss Saturday afternoon in the William H. Pitt Center. The Pioneers shot just four-of-21 from three in the loss, dropping them to 0-4 at home against NEC teams this season.
"We have the tendency some times to give up too much," stated head coach Dave Bike. "We have to still learn to have a team defensive mentality where we are offended when a team shoots 55% against us."
The Bulldogs (5-12, 3-3 NEC) came out of the gates with the hot hand and ran off an 18-5 lead over the first seven minutes of play. SHU's Jerrell Thompson (Plainfield, NJ)gave the Pioneers their only lead on Saturday, 3-2, hitting from behind the arc at 18:02. Bryant's lead hit 16 points, their biggest of the game, at the 8:20 mark fueled by three's from Cecil Gresham and Frankie Dobbs.
The Pioneers (7-10, 2-4 NEC) chipped away and were able to cut the Bulldog lead to single digits at the half. SHU did much of their work at the foul line down the stretch in the first half. Thompson converted on a three-point opportunity and made four-of-four at the charity stripe. A freshman Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) lay-up at 1:34 cut the lead to nine and Thompson canned a pair at the line to pull SHU within 34-27 with just over a minute left before the break.
Bryant scored the final points of the stanza on an Alex Francis fast break lay-up to send his team to the locker room up 36-27. The Bulldogs shot a blistering 60.9% (14-23) in the first half and were only slowed by nine turnovers.
SHU twice pulled as close as down five in the second half but could never get over the hump. Down 38-27, a quick 6-0 spurt ended with a pair of Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) free throws to pull within five. Three's from Corey Maynard, Greshman and Dobbs extended the lead back to 10 points but the Pioneers again found some life to pull within five. Gibson buried a jumper from the corner and freshman Chris Evans (Stamford, CT) converted on three-point play chance to pull within 51-46 with 11:10 left.
That would be as close as the Pioneers would get as Bryant used a 13-3 run over to pull in front 64-52 with just under four minutes to play. The Bulldogs got 22 points from Dobbs while Francis registered a double double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Gresham had 12 points off the bench while Raphael Jordan scored 15 points on seven-of-nine shooting. The Bulldogs would turn it over 18 times leading to 22 SHU points at the other end.
"We had an off shooting night, missed a lot of shots around the basket," commented Thompson. "I don't think that loss (CCSU on Thursday) carried over, we had a good practice yesterday, watched film and learned from our mistakes. I just think we didn't finish as well as we can today. That game is in the past. It's still early. There is a lot of basketball left to play."
"It just felt like they didn't miss," said Gibson. "It seemed like the shot clock would be winding down and they would just keep hitting big shots."
Gibson led the Pioneers with 18 points while Thompson finished with 17 points, five steals and four assists. The Pioneers held the edge on the glass, 40-32, with junior Stan Dulaire (Bloomfield, CT)leading the way with a career-high 12 caroms, 10 offensive.
Sacred Heart is on the road next week for a pair of Northeast Conference match-ups. SHU travels to Mount St. Mary's on Thursday night and heads to Wagner next Saturday.