January 20, 2012

Pack the Pitt!!! Pioneers Host CCSU Blue Devils Saturday Afternoon

SACRED HEART vs. CENTRAL CONNECTICUT

Game 21 * January 21, 2012 * William H. Pitt Center * Fairfield, CT * 3:30 pm

Full Set of Game Notes

The Storyline... Sacred Heart plays host to the Central Connecticut Blue Devils Saturday afternoon on "Pack the Pitt" day in the William H. Pitt Center.  The Pioneers fell to the Blue Devils in an 82-80 overtime thriller in the first meeting this season back in December.  The game saw three players score 30 points in SHU's Shane Gibson (32) and CCSU's Ken Horton (30) and Robby Ptacek (30).  The Pioneers completed the season sweep over Quinnipiac on Thursday, beating the Bobcats 79-75.  The Blue Devils come in off a 69-51 pasting of Bryant to improve to 7-1 at home this season. 

All-Time Series vs. CCSU... The instate rivalry goes back to the Division II days for both Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut State.  The Blue Devils lead the series 31-17 and owns a 21-9 record against the Pioneers since SHU joined the NEC in 1999-2000.  The Blue Devils swept the season series last year and have won three of the last four.  Sacred Heart and Central have met five times in the postseason.  The Blue Devils knocked the Pioneers from the NEC Tournament three times including winning the 2007 NEC title against SHU.  Sacred Heart ousted CCSU from the 2008 and 2009 tournaments. 

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 515-472, 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.  Howie Dickenman (Central Connecticut State '70) is in his 16th season as the head coach at his alma mater.  Dickenman is the second longest tenured head coach in school history and carries a 245-216 career record with 160 career NEC wins.  He is a four-time NEC Coach of the Year award recipient and has led the Blue Devils to three conference titles.  He has led CCSU to 14-straight NEC Tournament appearances heading into this season, the longest active streak in the league.

Up Next...  Sacred Heart will be at home for two more NEC tilts next week, hosting Wagner on Thursday and Mount St. Mary's next Saturday.

Quick Hits...

- Junior Shane Gibson has leapt into the lead in the NEC scoring race, raising his average to 20.5 ppg.  He owns eleven 20-point games this season and has recorded eight 20-point efforts in his last nine games.  On Thursday, he rebounded from a five-point first half to finish with 23 points in the win over Quinnipiac 

- In seven NEC games this year, Gibson is scoring at a 24.9 per game clip and shooting 52.1% (25-48) from three.
- In the NEC rankings, Gibson ranks third in three-point percentage (.452), fourth in made three-pointers (2.6 per game) and free-throw percentage (.847), and ninth in field goal percentage (.516) and 10th in steals (1.3 per game).

- The win over Quinnipiac gave the Pioneers the season-sweep over the Bobcats, a first since the 2007-08 season.

- Sophomore Luis Montes had a career night to lead the Pioneers to a past Quinnipiac.  Montes scored 28 points making eight-of-13 from the field and nine-of-11 from the free throw line, all career-best marks.  He made a season-best three-of-four from behind the arc.

- Junior Nick Greenbacker pitched in a season-high 10 points on Thursday.  Greenbacker scored eight-straight points on a 10-0 run in the second half.  He has started the last two games for an injured Justin Swidowski.

- Freshman point guard Phil Gaetano ranks sixth in the NEC in assists (3.95 apg) and dished out a career-high nine helpers in the win at Saint Francis (PA).

- Gibson was named the Choice Hotels NEC Co-Player of the Week after averaging 27.5 points on the Western Pennsylvania road trip.  Gibson hit for 26 points at SFPA and followed that up with a 29 point night at Robert Morris where he set a new career-high with seven three's. 

- Sacred Heart has shot 50.0% or better seven times this season but is just 3-4 in those games. SHU had their top-shooting effort of the season in last Thursday's win at Saint Francis (PA), burying 56.1% (23-41) on a season-low 41 shots.

- 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.

- Injury Bug - Starting point guard Evan Kelley returned to the line-up after missing three games with an ankle injury.  He came off the bench on Thursday, playing 14 minutes.  Junior center Justin Swidowski was limited to just four minutes at Saint Francis (PA) after suffering a shoulder injury.  He has missed two-straight games. and there is no timetable for his return.  SHU continues to be without the services of senior guard Steve Zazuri.  

Last Meeting with CCSU...  Junior Shane Gibson poured in a season-high 32 points but the Sacred Heart Pioneers came up short of a 2-0 NEC start with an overtime 82-80 loss at Central Connecticut on December 3rd.  SHU junior Justin Swidowski posted his first double double of the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.  The Blue Devils got 30 points apiece from the senior duo of Ken Horton and Robby Ptacek to notch their fifth-straight win.  CCSU jumped on the Pioneers early, running out to a 15-4 lead in the game's first six minutes.  SHU would chip away at that lead for much of the first half and cut it to three at the break, 31-28, thanks to outscoring Central 10-4 over the final five minutes.  CCSU used a 14-3 run early in the second half to go up 47-35, but SHU would answer and put together a 27-9 run to grab an eight point lead with 5:26 left.  Swidowski scored nine on the run while Gibson buried three's at 10:46 and 7:04.  The junior guard capped the rally with a lay-in to make it 56-64.  Five straight points from the Blue Devils, including two free-throws from freshman Adonis Burbage and a three from Ptacek, cut it to one, 64-63 with just over three to play.  The Pioneers took a 68-65 lead with over a minute left on an Evan Kelley jumper, but another three from Ptacek tied the game with 1:10 on the clock.  SHU struck first in overtime on a Gibson jumper and led 72-71 on a senior Stan Dulaire dunk.  Ptacek had the answer for CCSU, scoring eight of the 14 points in overtime for the Blue Devils, including his third three.  The Blue Devils would put the game away at the charity stripe in overtime, going seven-of-eight from the line.  Central outrebounded the Pioneers 45-34, including 10 from Horton who picked up his first double double of the year.  The Pioneers held Central's standout rookie Kyle Vinales in check with five points and five turnovers.  The Pioneers shot 46.0% (29-63) but were just five-of-20 from behind the three-point line. 

Facing the Blue Devils - Last 10 Meetings (Tied, 5-5)...

12/3/11     CCSU 82     SHU 80 (ot)      Detrick Gym

2/17/11     CCSU 57     SHU 56            Detrick Gym

1/13/11     CCSU 88     SHU 75            Pitt Center

1/18/10     SHU 71       CCSU 53         Pitt Center

1/16/10     CCSU 88     SHU 65            Detrick Gym

3/5/09       SHU 76       CCSU 64         Pitt Center (NEC Tournament)

2/19/09     SHU 101     CCSU 67         Detrick Gym

1/31/09     SHU 77       CCSU 69         Pitt Center

3/6/08       SHU 84       CCSU 71         Pitt Center (NEC Tournament)

3/2/08       CCSU 100   SHU 87            Pitt Center

Scouting the Blue Devils...  The Central Connecticut Blue Devils are 9-8 and a game out in the NEC standings at 6-1.  After beating SHU in overtime in early December, the Blue Devils dropped five-straight but have rebounded with the start of full-time NEC play winning four of their last five.  CCSU features three of the league's top-scorers in seniors Kenny Horton and Rob Ptacek and freshman Kyle Vinales.  Horton is second in the NEC in scoring (20.1 ppg) and rebounding (9.3 rpg) is first in steals (2.06) and third in blocks (1.38).  Ptacek averages 18.6 ppg, third in the NEC, and is the league's top shooter at the free throw line (.930).  Vinales owns a league-high five NEC Rookie of the Week awards and is fourth in the NEC in scoring at 18.5 ppg.  He leads the NEC averaging 2.82 three's per game.  Rookie guard Malcolm McMillan averages 4.88 assists per game.

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