STATEN ISLAND, NY (January 21, 2011) - Sacred Heart sophomore Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) poured in a career-high 34 points to lead the Pioneers past Wagner College 79-76 Saturday night in Staten Island, NY. Gibson hit 12-of-15 from the field, four-of-seven from three and six-of-seven at the line en route to his career night. The Pioneers as a team were lights out at the free throw line, making 30-of-34 at the charity stripe as they improve to 8-11 overall and 3-5 in the Northeast Conference.
SHU (8-11, 3-5 NEC) trailed 5-0 in the opening minutes but began to chip away and got a run started thanks to a Jerrell Thompson (Plainfield, NJ) three at 14:29. The Pioneers put together a 14-2 run to pull in front 19-10 capped by a freshman Chris Evans (Stamford, CT) three from the corner. Sacred Heart extended the lead to 24-14 at the six minute mark and built their biggest lead of the night at 13 points, 33-20, with 1:33 to go before the half.
The Seahawks (9-10, 5-3 NEC) rallied late in the half and stole some of the momentum back right at the halftime horn. After a Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) three put SHU up 36-25, Wagner's Tyler Murray completed a three-point play with five seconds on the clock. Montes tried to throw long off the inbounds but his pass was picked and when a long Murray three missed its mark short but Josh Thompson caught and laid it in just as the horn sounded. The shot counted and the Seahawks found themselves down just 36-30 at the break.
Gibson went to work in the second half and exploded for 27 of his 34 points during the final 20 minutes as the Pioneers also continued their parade to the free throw line. Gibson's three at 16:07 put the Pioneers up 10, 44-34, just four minutes in. Wagner pulled with five, 49-44, at 11:33 but the Pioneer's again were able to extend their lead back to double digits. Gibson hit on back to back dribble drive lay-ups and the Pioneers led 60-50 with 7:48 to play.
With SHU up 11 the Pioneers had a chance to extend the lead back to 13 at the free throw line but junior Stan Dulaire (Bloomfield, CT) missed the front end of a one-and-one and in the blink of an eye, Wagner sliced the lead in half. The Seahawks trailed 64-58 at 5:18 and then put together a late spurt to take the game late.
Chris Martin buried a three and then hit a runner to pull his team within 72-69 with 2:56 left. Murray pulled Wagner within one at 1:16 thanks to another three-point play and then delivered the go ahead three from the top of the key to lead 76-74 with 46 seconds left. SHU came right down and went to Gibson and the sophomore guard delivered. Gibson got to the rim and made an acrobatic reverse lay-up, drawing a foul. He buried the free throw and SHU went back in front 77-76.
After a Murray missed a jumper, Thompson buried both of his free throws to push the lead to three, 79-76, and Wagner's last second shot at a tie missed its mark to deliver the Pioneer win, snapping a three-game slide.
Thompson added 13 points and six rebounds while Dulaire tied his season-high with 12 points. Evans scored all 10 of his points in the first half. SHU shot 44.7% (21-47) from the field in the win.
Wagner got 21 points from Martin before fouling out while Latif Rivers scored 19 points in the loss. The Seahawks turned it over 18 times in the loss while SHU had 17 miscues, leading to 23 Wagner points.
SHU is back at home next week playing host to Saint Francis (PA) and Robert Morris on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.