Pioneers Open Road Stretch at Monmouth on Thursday

Center Justin Swidowski

SACRED HEART vs. MONMOUTH

Game 24 * February 2, 2012 * The MAC * West Long Branch, NJ * 7:00 pm

Full Set of Game Notes

The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers open the final month of the regular season on the road at Monmouth Thursday night.  The Pioneers enter the final eight games on the schedule in a logjam in the Northeast Conference standings at 4-6.  SHU is tied for sixth with Monmouth, Quinnipiac and Saint Francis (PA) and already own wins over the Bobcats and Red Flash.  After spending much of January at home in the William H. Pitt Center, the Pioneers will play five of their next six on the road where they are 3-7 this season.  The Pioneers feature one of the hotest offensive players in the country in junior guard Shane Gibson, who is coming off a 41-point outing vs. the Mount.  Gibson leads the NEC and is fourth in the nation in scoring this season (26.1 ppg).  Monmouth has come on of late, winning three of their last four including two-straight on the road at CCSU and Bryant coming in.

All-Time Series vs. Monmouth...  Thursday's game marks the 23rd meeting between the Pioneers and the Hawks on the hardwood.  SHU holds a 13-9 edge in the all-time series and have won five-straight and 10 of the last 12 meetings.

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 516-474, 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.  King Rice (North Carolina '92) is in his first season as the head coach at Monmouth University.  Rice is the fifth head coach in MU program history.  He played his college basketball for Hall of Fame Head Coach Dean Smith at North Carolina.  He has had assistant coaching stops at Vanderbilt, Illinois State and Oregon.

Up Next...  The Pioneers travel to Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday afternoon to face the Knight for the only time this season before moving on to back-to-back NEC Rivalry Week match-ups with Bryant.

Quick Hits...

- The Pioneers are in midst of a four-game NEC stretch against opponents they will face just once this season.  The Pioneers have lost to Wagner and the Mount and will now take on FDU and Monmouth on the road.

- After pouring in a career-high 41 points against the Mount, junior Shane Gibson extended his lead in the NEC scoring race, averaging 21.6 ppg.  That figure also ranks him fourth in the nation.

- Gibson has scored 20 or more points in six straight and 11 of his last 12 games, averaging 24.9 ppg in that span. 

- In 10 NEC games, Gibson is averaging 26.1 ppg, nearly six points more than second-ranked Jamal Olasewere (20.5 ppg) of LIU Brooklyn.

- He also ranks fourth in the NEC in three-point shooting (.436) and three-point makes per game (2.7).

- Gibson made it three-straight weeks a Pioneer has earned the Choice Hotels NEC Player of the Week Award.  Gibson picked-up his second award this season this week and took home the honor after the Western PA road trip.  Sophomore Luis Montes won the award last week after averaging 24.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in leading the Pioneers to wins over rivals Quinnipiac and Central Connecticut.
- Junior Justin Swidowski returned to the court last Saturday after missing four-straight games with injury.  Swidowski played 26 minutes off the bench and scored 10 points with five rebounds.

- Offensively, the Pioneers have scored 80 or more points five times this season but are just 1-4 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, L 81-80 2ot vs. Mount).

- 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 eight times and on three occasions given up 90 or more points.

- Injury Bug - Junior center Justin Swidowski missed four-straight games with a shoulder injury but returned last game to play 26 minutes off the bench.  Sophomore Chris Evans missed the Mount game with a knee injury and is considered questionable.  SHU continues to be without the services of senior guard Steve Zazuri

Last Meeting with Monmouth...  Sacred Heart's Shane Gibson buried six-of-nine from three on his way to 24 points while Louis Montes recorded a double double with 21 points and 13 rebounds as the Pioneers closed out the 2010-11 season with an 88-66 win over Monmouth at home on February 26, 2011.   in the William H. Pitt Center.  The Pioneers shot 54.4% from the field (31-57) and held a 38-26 advantage on the glass in the win.  SHU got 14 points and seven assists from Jerrell Thompson while Mahmet Sahan scored four points with a pair of blocks in the final games of the their Pioneers careers.  Sacred Heart raced out to a 48-18 lead at halftime and trailed just once in the game after the first basket 24 seconds in.  SHU led 24-17 with 7:24 on the clock as Ed Waite hit a lay-up for the Hawks final field goal of the first half.  The Pioneers blew the game wide open ending the first half on a 28-1 run to lead by 30 at the break.  Both Montes and Gibson scored 15 points in the first half as the Pioneers shot 62.1% as a team (18-29).  The Hawks shot just 25.0% over the first 20 minutes (8-32) and made just one-of-14.  The closest Monmouth would come in the second half is down 16 with seven minutes left, 69-53, but SHU quickly responded.  The Pioneers answered with a 15-3 spurt over the next four minutes to erase any doubt.  Stan Dulaire finished with 10 points and pulled down six rebounds to round out the Pioneers in double figures.  The Pioneers as a team knocked down a season-high 11 three's, shooting 42.3% (11-26) behind the arc in the win.

Scouting the Hawks...  The Monmouth Hawks are coming off a pair of road wins last week, at Central Connecticut in overtime, 58-56, and at Bryant, 78-68.  Junior Jesse Steele is the only Hawk averaging double figures at 12.7 points per game.  Steele is among the NEC leaders in assists, ranking fifth at 4.04 per game.  He is also one of the league's top-free throw shooters, making 82.5% (47-57) at the charity stripe.  As a team, the Hawks rank last in the NEC in scoring defense (77.6) and field goal percent defense (.494) and 11th in scoring margin (-13.1).

Facing the Hawks - Last 10 Meetings (SHU, 9-1)...

2/26/11     SHU 88            Monmouth 66         Pitt Center

1/8/11       SHU 80            Monmouth 65         MAC

2/28/10     SHU 68            Monmouth 63         MAC

12/5/09     SHU 81            Monmouth 73         Pitt Center

2/21/09     SHU 83            Monmouth 61         Pitt Center

1/3/09       Monmouth 70   SHU  56                 Boylan Gym

2/7/08       SHU 74            Monmouth 62         Pitt Center

12/2/07     SHU 80            Monmouth 53         Boylan Gym

2/23/07     SHU 82            Monmouth 75         Boylan Gym

1/11/07     SHU 74            Monmouth 57         Pitt Center

Closing in on SHU History...  Shane Gibson is closing in on the SHU Division I record for points scored in a season.  He currently sits at 496, two points away from his 2010-11 season total.  Maurice Bailey holds the record at 542 and Kibwe Trim and Corey Hassan are second with 537 points.

1. Maurice Bailey (27 gms) 542 - '03-'04

2. Kibwe Trim (28 gms) 537 - '05-'06

    Corey Hassan (28 gms) 537 - '09-'10

4. Shane Gibson (29 gms) 498 - '10-'11

5. Shane Gibson (23 gms) 496 - '11-'12

Gibson's 41-point Night...  Shane Gibson has been on a scoring tear all season, culminating with the first 40-point performance by a Pioneers since 1993 last Saturday.  Gibson dropped an NEC single-game season-high 41 points, a figure that also ties him for fourth in the nation this season, in a double overtime loss at home to the Mount.  He hit 16-28 from the field and finished 6-13 from three-point range.  The 41 points established a school Division I school record and were the most in an NEC game since Bryant's Alex Francis scored 43 against LIU Brooklyn on February 24, 2011.  In fact, it was just the 12th time an NEC player has reached the 40-point mark since the year 2000.  It was the first 40-point game by a Sacred Heart player since Darren Robinson tallied 47 against New Haven on February 17, 1993.

NEC 40+ Point Performances Since 2000
Shane Gibson (SHU) vs. MSM              41     1/28/12
Alex Francis (BRY) vs. LIU                   43     2/24/11
Tristan Blackwood (CCSU) vs. RMU     40     2/22/07
Rob Monroe (QU) vs. SHU                  40     2/3/05
Rob Monroe (QU) vs. Longwood         41     1/2/05
Antawn Dobie (LIU) vs. SFNY             53     2/22/03
Maurice Carter (RMU) vs. E. Michigan   42     11/26/02
James Felton (FDU) vs. LIU                 43     2/23/02
Rahsaan Johnson (MU) vs. Princeton    40     12/8/01
Rahsaan Johnson (MU) vs. SFNY         43     2/4/01
Rahsaan Johnson (MU) vs. SFNY         40     3/3/00
Steven Howard (SFNY) vs. UMBC        40     2/12/00

Gibson Among the NCAA Leaders...  Just as Shane Gibson has climbed the to the top of the NEC scoring list, he is making his way up the NCAA's scoring charts as well.  Gibson enters this week ranking fourth among the nation's leaders at 21.6 ppg.  He ranks 24th in 3pt% (.436), 47th in 3pt makes per game (2.7), 53rd in FT% (.849) and 67th in FG% (.510).   

NCAA Scoring Leaders:  1. Damian Lillard, Weber State  24.4 ppg, 2. Reggie Hamilton, Oakland  24.0 ppg, 3. Doug McDermott, Creighton  23.5 ppg,  4. Shane Gibson, SHU, 26.1 ppg

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