Sacred Heart Pioneers (9-15, 4-9 NEC) vs. Quinnipiac Bobcats (16-8, 8-5 NEC)
Game #25 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - 7:30 pm - Fairfield, CT - William H. Pitt Center (2,100)
TV: MSG Network
The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers and Quinnipiac Bobcats close out Northeast Conference Rivalry Week Monday night in a Valentine's Day showdown live on MSG Network. The Bobcast took round one of the rivalry week series, topping the Pioneers 59-54 last Wednesday in the TD Bank Sports Center. SHU held a 10-point lead in the second half but went over eight minutes without scoring a point in letting the Bobcats storm back for the win. Sophomore Shane Gibson regained his shooting stroke, registering his eight 20-point performance of the year with 21 at QU. The Bobcats look to continue their hot streak, coming to the Pitt Center winners of four of their last five.
Sacred Heart - Quinnipiac All-Time Series... This is the 59th meeting all-time between the Pioneers and Bobcats in the series dating back to the Division II era for both teams. Since joining the NEC in 1999-00, Quinnipiac holds a slim 12-10 edge in the series and has won four-straight after beating SHU 59-54 last Wednesday. The Bobcats swept last season's NEC Rivalry Week series, winning 86-71 in Fairfield and 90-87 at home. Sacred Heart holds the all-time edge, 37-21. The first meeting between the teams was in 1965, a 100-83 Quinnipiac win.
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 504-458, 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. Tom Moore (Boston University '87) is in his fourth season as the head coach at Quinnipiac University. Moore is coming off a season where he led the Bobcats to a share of their first NEC regular season title and a school record 23 wins in 2009-10 in earning the league's Coach of the Year award. Prior to becoming the Bobcat's head coach he was an assistant coach at UConn from 1994 through 2007. He owns a 69-49 record at QU and was the head coach at Worcester State College for five seasons where he compiled a 76-59 mark.
On the Upcoming Slate... The Pioneers play their final two road games of the season traveling to CCSU on Thursday and Bryant on Saturday.
Scouting the Bobcats... The Quinnipiac Bobcats are 15-8 overall and alone in fourth place in the NEC standings with a 9-5 marks. Junior guard James Johnson is fourth in the NEC in scoring at 16.5 points per game. Senior Deontay Twyman is 15th in the league rankings averaging 13.2 ppg. Senior Justin Rutty, the defending NEC Player of the Year, was forced to miss seven games this season with injury but posts 14.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. The Bobcats are the nation's leading rebounding team, averaging 42.4 boards per game. QU is second in the NEC in scoring averaging 72.5 points a night.
Last Meeting with QU... The Sacred Heart Pioneers built a 10-point second half lead but couldn't put away Quinnipiac thanks to an over eight minute stretch without a field goal as the Bobcats battled back for a 59-54 win in their first meeting during Northeast Conference Rivalry Week last Wednesday. The Pioneers were 0-for-9 in the second half from behind the arc and were outrebounded 44-25 in the loss. Quinnipiac took full advantage of their dominance on the glass pulling down 19 offensive boards to the tune of 23 second chance points. QU got a pair of double double efforts from Dave Johnson and Lance Brown, who each hauled in 13 caroms apiece. Johnson came off the bench to add a team-high 16 points while Brown scored 13. The Pioneers got 21 points from sophomore Shane Gibson who finished eight-of-17 on the night and led the team with six rebounds as well. SHU opened up their biggest lead of the night at 10 points just under four minutes into the second half. The Pioneers used a 10-1 run for a 44-34 lead at 16:23 as the Bobcats struggled in the opening minutes, turning it over five times before the first media timeout. The Pioneers took a 48-39 lead at 12:25, their final points until 4:15 left in the game. During that stretch the Bobcats used a 13-0 rally to take the lead back for good. Freshman Louis Montes, making his first career start, scored nine of his 11 points in the first half. SHU shot 47.8% (11-23) in the first half but scored just 20 points in the second half on eight-of-24 shooting (33.3%).
Second Half Woes... The Pioneers The Sacred Heart Pioneers have held second half leads in three of their last five games only to see them slip away in losses. SHU led Quinnipiac by 10 early in the second half only to fall 59-54 last time out. The Pioneers were up six with 15 minutes to go at first place Long Island only to see it wiped away en route to an 81-69 loss. Sacred Heart led Saint Francis (PA) at home by 10 with 14:40 left in the second half before falling in overtime to the Red Flash, 88-86.
NEC Playoff Push... The Pioneers are in the midst of stretch of five of six games on the road coming down the final weeks of the season. SHU has lost three-straight and four of their last five as they look to get the ship righted to try and challenge for one of the eight NEC Tournament spots. The Pioneers are 4-9 in the league and in 10th place, one game behind Saint Francis (PA) for the final playoff spot. Bryant, currently 7-7 and in seventh is ineligible of the tournament field. The Red Flash do hold the head to head tie breaker thanks to their win in the only meeting between SHU and SFPA this year. The Pioneers end the season at Central Connecticut and Bryant and home to FDU and Monmouth.
Gibson Among NEC's Top-Scorers... R-Sophomore Shane Gibson shook off some early season offensive struggles and has found his shooting stroke and has led the team in scoring in 13 of the last 16 games. Gibson enjoyed a stretch of five 20-point efforts in six games and posted a 34 point game at Wagner where he scored 27 points in the second half. He owns eight 20 point efforts this season and on four different occasions Gibson has set a new career high for scoring this year. The sophomore guard is shooting 49.8% (110-221) from the field and 43.5% (50-115) while averaging 19.5 points during the last 16 games. In 13 NEC games this season, he is averaging 18.8 points. On the year, Gibson is second in the league in scoring (17.1 ppg) and has made a NEC best 62 three's on the year.
Montes Cracks the Starting Five... Freshman Louis Montes was the third Pioneers freshman to crack the starting lineup this season and he responded with this third double digit game of the year. Montes scored nine of his 11 points in the first half in Wednesday's loss at Quinnipiac. Montes became the ninth Pioneer on the roster to earn a starting nod this year. Senior Jerrell Thompson and sophomore Shane Gibson have been the only two constants in the starting lineup this season. Head coach Dave Bike has used nine different lineups in 24 games this season.