FAIRFIELD, CT (February 24, 2011) – The Sacred Heart Pioneers got 22 points from sophomore guard Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) but allowed Fairleigh Dickinson to shoot 53.3% (32-60) from the field and scored 24 points in transition en route to an 85-74 loss at the hands of the Knights Thursday night in the William H. Pitt Center. The loss eliminates the Pioneers from the Northeast Conference postseason play and drops their record to 10-18 overall and 5-12 in the league. The Knights snapped a 14-game NEC losing streak with the win.
FDU (5-23, 3-14 NEC) got a game-high 34 points from senior Terence Grier who made 14-of-22 shots and four-of-five from behind the arch. The Knights outscored the Pioneers 46-32 in the paint led by a double double from John Galvin who scored 14 points with 12 rebounds. Senior Mike Scott flirted with a triple-double scoring 12 points with eight rebounds, eight assists and five steals.
The two teams played a nip and tuck first half with six lead changes and 10 ties over the first 20 minutes. The Pioneers took their largest lead of the night with 2:29 left in the first half, pushing the advantage to 37-31 on an Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) fast break lay-up. The Knights closed the final two minutes on a 12-1 run to take control of the game heading into the locker room up, 43-38. Grier put FDU up for good with a three-point play with 38 seconds left, scoring on the fast break and drawing a foul. Scott converted on the break off a steal and Galvin closed the half with a pair of free throws for a five point lead.
Fairleigh Dickinson pushed their lead to 10 in the opening minutes of the second half as Grier hit from three and Scott gave his team a 52-42 lead with 16:26 on the clock forcing a SHU timeout. The Pioneers were able to cut to within six after Chris Evans (Stamford, CT) and Jerrell Thompson (Plainfield, NJ) three's but the Knights responded with a 14-3 run over the next three minutes to pull away. Grier drilled a three to start the run and Briahn Smith also hit from down town followed by a Galvin lay-up for a 68-51 lead with 10:28 left. Grier gave FDU their biggest lead just two and half minutes later with another three to lead 71-53.
SHU (10-18, 5-12 NEC) looked to make a late run and pulled to within seven with two minutes left as Kelley capped a 14-3 Pioneer run with a tip-in to trail 76-69. The Knights used a timeout to settle in but Sacred Heart would cut it to five, 76-71, on two Gibson free throws with 1:45 left. Galvin and the Knights went back inside and put the game away down the stretch with back-to-back makes in the paint. Glavin scored underneath off a feed from Grier and then the senior delivered his final points of the night on the break to lead 80-71 with 1:18 left. Scott and Galvin both went to the line in the closing minutes and made both their free throws to cement away the 85-74 win.
The Pioneers shot 42.4% (28-66) but made just six-of-24 from three (.250). Sophomore Femi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia) came off the bench for 12 points and four rebounds. Evans chipped in with 10 points. SHU outrebounded FDU 40-36 in the loss.
Sacred Heart will close out the season on Saturday afternoon playing host the Monmouth Hawks at 3:30 pm. During halftime Sacred Heart will honor the members of the 1986 Division II National Championship team on the 25th Anniversary.