February 3, 2011

Strong Second Half Lifts Long Island over Sacred Heart, 81-69

BROOKLYN, N.Y.  (February 3, 2011) – Long Island University shot 55.6% (15-27) in the second half and used a 20-6 run to erase a Sacred Heart six-point lead dropping the Pioneers 81-69 Thursday night in Northeast Conference play.  The Blackbirds dominated on the glass out rebounding SHU, 48-34, to drop the Pioneers to 9-13 overall and 4-7 in NEC play.

Long Island (17-5, 9-2 NEC) got matching double doubles from forwards Julian Boyd and Kyle Johnson.  Boyd scored a game-high 19 points and pulled down 11 boards while Johnson finished with 15 and 11.  The Blackbirds made just six-of-27 from behind the arc but went to the free throw line 29 times to just 12 for Sacred Heart.  LIU made 19-of-29 at the charity stripe.

Sacred Heart (9-13, 4-7 NEC) opened the game making four of their first seven shots and the two teams played to 9-9 tie five minutes in.  LIU led 16-14 at the 11 minute mark and went on a tear as Jason Brickman and Kyle Johnson buried back-to-back three's to fuel a 10-2 spurt to open a double digit lead. 

The Pioneers sliced that lead in half by the six minute mark but another spurt by LIU pushed the lead back to ten, 33-23, with just under four minutes to play.  SHU would close the half strong and used a 6-1 spurt to gain some momentum into the locker room.  Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) hit a jumper to get it started and freshman Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) ended the rally with a pair of transition lay-ups to trail 34-31 at the break.  The Pioneers held the league's top-scoring team to just 37.1% shooting in the first half.

SHU tied the game just 1:20 into the second half and then took their first lead since the opening minutes of the game. Gibson buried a long three from the wing and the Pioneers went up 38-37.  Johnson briefly gave LIU the lead back with a fast-break make but the Pioneers quickly used a 7-0 spurt to take their biggest lead of the night.

Senior Jerrell Thompson (Plainfield, NJ) hit a leaner followed by a make by freshman Chris Evans (Stamford, CT).  The freshman forward hit again just before the media timeout and drew a foul, completing the three-point play with a free throw and a 45-39 lead with 15:06 to play.

The Blackbirds turned the defensive pressure up and put together a game-changing 20-6 run over the next six minutes.  Boyd and David Hicks both converted three-point play opportunities and put LIU in front 59-51 with 9:15 to play.  Despite a tough night from three-point land, Long Island came up with two big makes from downtown to push the lead back to double digits where it would stay.

Johnson drilled consecutive three's at 6:46 and 5:06 to push the lead to 67-59.  From there, LIU sprinted home, keeping the Pioneers at bay and Boyd putting the closing touches on the win with a dunk and one with 1:54 left.  The play actually resulted in double technical fouls being called on SHU's Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) and LIU's Jamal Olasewere after both teams need to be separated after some pushing.  Long Island's Michael Culpo was also issued a technical foul and ejected for leaving the bench area during the scrum.

Gibson finished with 18 points and three assists in the loss while Evans had 12 points and four rebounds.  Junior Stan Dulaire (Bloomfield, CT) came up one rebound shy of his first career double double with 10 points and nine rebounds. 

Sacred Heart will return to Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon to take on the St. Francis (NY) Terriers.  Tip-off is scheduled for 4:30 pm.

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