FAIRFIELD, CT (January 26, 2012) - The Sacred Heart Pioneers shot just three-of-20 from three and turned it over 19 times on the way to a 73-54 loss to Wagner at home in the William H. Pitt Center Thursday night. SHU got 20 points from junior Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT), his tenth 20-point effort in his last 11 games, but turned in a season-low 54 points in falling to 10-12 overall and 4-5 in the Northeast Conference.
The Pioneers (10-12, 4-5 NEC) led just twice in the opening minutes of the game Thursday night and up 4-3 with 16:46 on the clock saw the Seahawks catch fire and rip off a 15-1 run. Wagner's Tyler Murray buried a pair of three's on the run and Latif Rivers drilled one from downtown as well to take an 18-5 lead with 11 minutes left.
Gibson pulled the Pioneers within four on nine-straight points, finishing with an old fashioned three-point play to trail 18-13 with eight minutes left. Murray's third three of the first half gave his team a 27-16 lead and Mario Moody converted a three-point play opportunity with 2:21 left for a 32-21 Wagner advantage.
SHU closed the half strong as junior Nick Greenbacker (Coventry, CT) hit on a pair of lay-ins underneath and freshman Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, CT) beat the halftime horn with a straight-away three to trail 35-28 at the break. Gaetano's three ended an 0-for-8 start for SHU behind the arc but 14 turnovers over the first 20 minutes led to 16 Wagner points at the other end.
The Seahawks (16-4, 7-2 NEC) opened the second half with a three by Jonathon Williams and Murray's fourth was followed by an offensive put-back by Naofall Folahan for a 43-32 lead less than four minutes in. Murray drilled his fifth three at 11:14 to lead by 13 but SHU answered with a lay-up by Gaetano and another from Gibson to cut the lead to single digits for the final time Thursday night, 52-43.
Wagner pushed the lead to 58-43 by the eight minute mark and 63-48 with five minutes to go. Gibson buried his only three of the night with 3:19 on the clock to pull within 65-54 but Murray erased any thoughts of a late run with his sixth triple on the next possession and Wagner closed the game with an 8-0 spurt to seal the win.
Murray's 21 points came on his seven three's while Williams chipped in with 14 points and three steals. Rivers scored 10 and Moody came off the bench for 12 points. The Seahawks had 25 points off SHU turnovers in the win.
Gibson's 20 points came on eight-of-19 shooting and three-of-three at the line. Greenbacker tallied a season-high 14 points with seven rebounds and a career-high four blocks. Sophomore Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) came off the bench for 10 points in the loss.
SHU is back at home on Saturday playing host to Mount St. Mary's at 3:30 pm in the Pitt Center.