BROOKLYN, NY (February 16, 2012) – Sacred Heart junior Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) drilled the game-tying three with 10.0 seconds left to force overtime with Northeast Conference leader LIU Brooklyn but the Blackbirds left no doubt opening the extra session with a10-0 run on the way to a 103-91 win Thursday night. The Pioneers see their three-game winning streak snapped while the Blackbirds pick-up their 20th win and extended the nation's third-longest home winning streak to 23-straight in the Wellness Center.
The Pioneers (13-15, 7-8 NEC) shot 50.0% (15-30) in the first half despite NEC leading scorer Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) making just two-of-eight from the field. The Blackbirds where a touch better, making 15 of the 27 shots they took (55.6%) led by the inside presence of Julian Boyd and Jamal Olasewere who had 12 and 11, respectively. After struggling offensively in the first half, Gibson finished with a team-high 24 points, hitting four-of-nine from three. He added five steals and four assists to his totals. Junior Justin Swidowski (Cinnaminson, NJ) totaled 23 points with five rebounds and three blocks.
SHU took a 10-9 into the first media time-out with Swidowski leading the way on a foul line jumper and a pair of lay-ins, one in transition. LIU opened just two of six to start the game but found their offensive rhythm starting with a Michael Culpo three at 14:05. An Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) triple from the right wing gave the Pioneers a 17-16 lead at 11:39.
The Blackbirds (20-7, 14-1 NEC) caught some momentum when SHU starting forward Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) went out at 10:44 with his second foul, sending Boyd to the line to complete at three-point opportunity for a 21-17 lead. SHU would not let LIU run away as Swidowski went to work on the boards and with back-to-back put backs put the Pioneers up 23-21 at 9:39. With SHU up 27-25, LIU used a quick 7-0 spurt started by another Culpo three to take a five-point lead.
The Pioneers answered with a 5-0 spurt as Gibson tied it with a long three from left wing at 4:41. After a Boyd three put LIU up 40-34, SHU freshman Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, CT) answered with one of his own to send SHU to the locker room down three.
Sacred Heart was on fire to start the second half, making their first seven shots to open with a 17-3 run. A Swidowski jumper and fast break lay-in tied the game at 43-43 and after a Kelley duck-under jumper; LIU was forced to use a time-out down 49-43 with 16:22 on the clock. Swidowski was fouled on a three out of the break, making all three and then made it seven-of-seven to open the half with a lay-up for a 54-43 lead with just over 15 left on the clock.
LIU went to Olasewere and the junior delivered with a three-point play and started the Blackbirds on their climb back. Boyd followed with a vicious alley-oop dunk on Garner half court pass and Olasewere cut it to 54-50 with a lay-in. Gibson stops the bleeding with a three from the left wing, and pushed the lead back to double digits at 61-50. Back-to-back three's from Culpo and Brandon Thompson pulled LIU within 61-60. Culpo would make it three-straight triples and tie the game at 63-63 with 7:20 left. Olasewere made it a 15-2 run with a leaning lay-in and Boyd put the Blackbirds back in front 68-65 with a three-point play at 4:53
LIU looked to be closing in on their 20th win down the stretch with an Olasewere tip-in pushing the lead to five, 74-69. Looking to close the game at the free throw line, LIU made just three-of-six at the charity stripe in the final minute to leave the door open a crack for a SHU comeback. Gibson got it rolling with a step-back three with 28.8 seconds left to cut the lead in half, 79-76. Boyd made just one of two and Montes converted a put-back to pull within 80-78 with 19.3 seconds left
Olasewere missed the first of two free throws but got the second with 15.7 left for a three point lead. There was no doubt who would get the final look for the Pioneers as Gibson stepped up to drill the tying three with 10.0 seconds on the clock, knotting the game at 81-81. The Blackbirds races up court but Olasewere missed on dribble drive sending the game to overtime.
LIU struck first in the overtime with an Olasewere lay-up and then got a Culpo three for an 86-81 lead. After a pair of free throws from Jason Brickman, Culpo buried a second three from deep in the left corner and the Blackbirds capped a 10-0 run to seize control of the game and the win. LIU made four of their five shots in the overtime and 12-of-15 at the free throw line.
Both teams shot well, with the Blackbirds checking in at 55.0% (33-60) and the Pioneers at 52.9% (37-70). LIU held a big advantage at the charity stripe, making 29-of-38 while SHU was 11-of-11.
Kelley finished with 15 points for the Pioneers with eight rebounds and five assists. Montes totaled 12 points and seven caroms. This was SHU's third overtime loss in NEC play this season.
Sacred Heart is right back in Brooklyn on Saturday night to take on the St. Francis (NY) Terriers live on the MSG Network at 7 pm.