January 13, 2012

Pioneers Continue Road Trip Saturday Night at Robert Morris

SACRED HEART vs. ROBERT MORRIS
Game 19 * January 14, 2012 * Charles L. Sewall Center * Moon Township, PA * 7:00 pm

Full Set of Game Notes

The Storyline... Sacred Heart closes out the Western Pennsylvania portion of the schedule with a stop at Robert Morris Saturday night.  The Pioneers overcame 22 turnovers by having their best shooting game of the season (56.1%) in a 71-68 win at Saint Francis (PA) Thursday night.  Junior guard Shane Gibson netted 26 points despite a career-high nine turnovers to lead the offense.  Gibson has nine 20-point games this season and six in his last seven outings and is averaging 24.4 ppg in Northeast Conference play.  The Colonials are looking to rebound from their second-straight loss after falling 78-76 to Quinnipiac on Thursday.

Sacred Heart - Robert Morris All-Time Series... Saturday marks the 21st meeting between the two schools with Robert Morris leading the series 12-8.  The Pioneers snapped a four-game Colonial winning streak in the series with an 84-75 win at home in the only meeting last season.  Colonials won the only meeting last season, dealing SHU a 64-39 loss.  The last SHU win at the Sewall Center was during the 2007-08 season.

The Coaches...  Dave Bike (Sacred Heart '69) is in his 34th year as the head coach of Sacred Heart. He has a career record of 514-471, ranking him 20th among active coaches. Only Jim Boheim of Syracuse has 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.  Andrew Toole (Penn '03) is in his second season as the head coach at Robert Morris University.  Toole is in his fifth season overall at Robert Morris, having served as an assistant in 2007-08 and as associate head coach from 2008 through 2010.  Toole led the Colonials to an 18-14 record last year and an appearance in the NEC title game.

Up Next...  Sacred Heart returns home for their longest home stand of the season stating Thursday, January 19th.  SHU will host Quinnipiac, CCSU, Wagner and the Mount to close out the month.

Quick Hits...

- Sacred Heart has shot 50.0% or better seven times this season but is just 3-4 in those games. SHU is coming off their top-shooting effort of the season in Thursday's win at Saint Francis (PA), burying 56.1% (23-41) on a season-low 41 shots.  The Pioneers have shot 50.0% or better in four of their last five games and lead the NEC in shooting on the year (45.8%).

- The Pioneers tied their season-high with 22 turnovers vs. the Red Flash.  SHU turned it over 22 times in a loss at Rutgers.  Shane Gibson had nine of the Pioneers 22 turnovers, a career-high.

- Offensively, the Pioneers have scored 80 or more points four times this season but are just 1-3 in those games (L 82-80 ot at CCSU; W 84-79 vs. Lafayette; L vs. LIU Brooklyn 87-81; L vs. St. Francis-NY 99-84).

- Defensively, the Pioneers gave up their most points in an NEC game for the first time since the 2007-08 season in the 99-84 loss to St. Francis-NY.  SHU lost 100-87 at home to Central Connecticut State in the season finale on March 2, 2008.  On the year, SHU has allowed 80 or more points seven times and on three occasions given up 90 or more points.

- Junior Shane Gibson hit for 26 points at SFPA, his ninth 20-point game this year and his sixth in the last seven games.  Gibson is second in the NEC in scoring (19.8 ppg).  In five NEC games this year, the junior guard is scoring at a 24.4 per game clip.
- Gibson has found his stroke from behind the three-point line and ranks fourth in the NEC making 43.0% (43-100) from downtown on the season.  He finished six-for-nine effort against LIU Brooklyn, matching his career-high for three's in a game.  He previously hit six treys at Providence and at home against Monmouth, both last season.

- Gibson ranks eighth in the NEC in field goal percentage, creeping over the 50.0% mark on the year.  He is shooting 51.6% (131-254).

- Freshman point guard Phil Gaetano is coming off a nine point, nine assist effort at Saint Francis (PA), both career-high marks.  Gaetano leads the team with 74 assists, ranking fifth among NEC leaders (4.11 apg).  He ranks fifth in assist/turnover ratio (74 a/45 to).  As a team, SHU leads the league dishing 15.1 assists per game.

- Freshman guard Steve Glowiak came off the bench for an 11 point night at SFPA.  Glowiak make four-of-eight and two-of-five from three.  It was his third double digit game this season, all off the bench.

- Injury Bug - Last Thursday marked the first game this season the Pioneers did not play at least 10 players in a game.  SHU continues to be without the services of senior guard Steve Zazuri.  Starting point guard Evan Kelley was forced out of the line-up after suffering an ankle injury in the loss to LIU and has missed the last two games.  Junior center Justin Swidowski was limited to just four minutes at Saint Francis (PA) after suffering a shoulder injury.  He did not return to the game and is questionable for Saturday's game at Robert Morris.

Last Meeting with Robert Morris...   The Sacred Heart Pioneers shot a scorching 61.9% (26-42) and had five players in double figures as they dealt Robert Morris an 84-75 loss in the Pitt Center on January 29, 2011.  SHU guard Shane Gibson led the SHU scoring contingent with 19 points while forward Nick Greenbacker chipped in a career-high 17 points to help end an 0-5 stretch at home in conference play last season.  Robert Morris's Velton Jones led all scorers with 22 points.  The Pioneers made 13-of-21 shots in both the first and second halves and held a big advantage at the free throw line.  SHU made 26-of-32 at the charity stripe, 22-of-26 coming in the second half.  The Colonials went to the line just 11 times, making eight in the loss.  SHU also dished out a season-high 21 assists led by senior Jerrell Thompson who passed out a career-high 15 in the win.  Gibson's 19 points came on six-of-10 shooting while Greenbacker finished seven-of-nine while collecting six rebounds, a steal and a block.  Chris Evans finished with 14 points and six rebounds while Stan Dulaire had 10 points and six boards.  SHU's Evan Kelley came off the bench for 13 points, making nine-of-10 at the free throw line.  Thompson's 15 assists came against just one turnover while he added seven points, all at the free throw line.   The Colonials shot 44.4% (28-63) and were outrebounded 31-26.  Karon Abraham finished with 19 points while Lawrence Bridges and Gary Wallace came off the bench for 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Facing the Colonials - Last 10 Meetings (Tied 5-5)...

1/27/11     SHU 84       RMU 75           Pitt Center

2/18/10     RMU 64      SHU 39            Sewell Center

2/12/09     RMU 85      SHU 79            Sewell Center

1/10/09     RMU 72      SHU 70 (ot)      Pitt Center

2/28/08     RMU 82      SHU 69            Pitt Center

1/13/08     SHU 82       RMU 69           Sewell Center

1/18/07     SHU 84       RMU 82           Sewell Center

12/7/06     SHU 90       RMU 74           Pitt Center

1/19/06     SHU 73       RMU 60           Pitt Center

2/26/05     RMU 77      SHU 74            Sewell Center

Scouting the Colonials...  Robert Morris sits at 12-6 overall and 3-2 in the NEC coming into Saturday's match-up.  The Colonials opened conference play at 3-0 but have lost back-to-back to Connecticut schools CCSU, 68-53, and Quinnipiac, 78-76.  RMU is one of the NEC's top-defensive teams this season, allowing a league-low 61.6 ppg.  The Colonials also rank first in steals (7.89 pg), second in rebounding margin (+6.6) and third in field goal percent defense (.415).  Junior guard Velton Jones is the team's top-scorer and ranks 10th among NEC leaders at 15.6 ppg.  Jones is also among the league's top-passers, dishing 3.83 assists per night (7th) and top-defenders, with 1.72 steals per game (3rd).  Sophomore guard Coron Williams is also in double digits averaging 11.2 ppg and is the team's top long range shooter, knocking down 40.4% (40-99) from three. 

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