SACRED HEART vs. SAINT FRANCIS (PA)
Game 31 * February 25, 2012 * William H. Pitt Center * Fairfield, CT * 12:00 pm
The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers close out the regular season playing host to the Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash live on MSG Plus. The Pioneers were beaten at the buzzer Thursday night as Robert Morris' Velton Jones drilled a three as time expired to deal SHU a 55-52 loss. Despite the loss, Sacred Heart claimed the final spot in the Northeast Conference Tournament thanks to losses by Mount St. Mary's at CCSU and the Red Flash at Quinnipiac. SFU wraps up their season on Saturday, coming in at 1-14 on the road this season.
Sacred Heart - Saint Francis (PA) All-Time Series... This is the 20th meeting all-time between the two schools with SHU leading the series tied 10-9. The Pioneers won the first meeting this season, beating SFU 71-68 in Loretto. SHU has won eight of the last 10 meetings in a series that dates back to the Pioneers first year in the Northeast Conference in 1999-2000.
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 519-477, 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. Don Friday (Lebanon Valley '90) is in his fourth season at Saint Francis University having led the Red Flash to a 29-74 mark. Friday became the program's 20th head coach after spending five seasons at Lycoming College. He owns a 115-133 career record.
Up Next... The Pioneers move on to post season play for the first time since 2009. Sacred Heart will be the #8 seed and travel to #1 seed LIU Brooklyn on Thursday, March 1st.
- Junior Shane Gibson has been named a finalist for the 2012 Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Year Award. Gibson is one of 25 finalists that also include LIU Brooklyn's Julian Boyd for the award presented by College Insider.
- The Pioneers head into the season finale off consecutive losses in the closing seconds. SHU lost at St. Francis (NY), 58-56, on a put back by Travis Nichols with 1.6 seconds left and fell to Robert Morris, 55-53, as Velton Jones drained a three as the horn sounded.
- SHU has had 11 games decided by three points or less and are just 4-7 in those games. In NEC play, the Pioneers are 4-5 in games decided by three points or fewer.
- NEC Tournament Time - The Pioneers clinched the eighth and final spot in the conference tournament, returning to the postseason for the first time since 2009. This will be SHU's sixth trip to the NEC Tournament. The Pioneers will face defending NEC Champion LIU Brooklyn next Thursday night. This is SHU's second time as the #8 seed. They fell to #1 CCSU, 65-54, at Wagner in the 2002 tournament.
- Sacred Heart, the third highest scoring team in the NEC, was held to 53 points while taking 39 shots in the loss to RMU, both season-lows.
- The Colonials held NEC leading scorer Shane Gibson to 12 points, his second lowest total this season (11 vs. Stony Brook -Gm 2)
- Gibson did dish out a career-high six assists in the loss.
- Gibson continues to lead in the NEC scoring race, averaging 21.8 ppg. That figure also ranks him fourth among the nation's leaders.
- Gibson's 655 points is the most in a single-season by an NEC player since Wagner's Jermaine Hall finished with 686 in leading the Seahawks to the NEC title in 2002-03. He currently ranks 19th, just 30 points out of the tenth spot held by Marist's Izett Buchanan (685 in 1993-94).
- In NEC games, Gibson is averaging 24.7 ppg. He has scored 20 or more points in 14-of-17 league games and an NEC-best 20 times overall this season. The 19 games of 20+ points are the most by an NEC player since Quinnipiac's DeMario Anderson had 20 in 2007-08. - Gibson also leads the conference with four 30+ point outings. He currently maintains the highest single-season average since 1998-99 when Ray Minlend (SFNY) also netted 25.8 ppg against NEC rivals.
- Gibson enters the regular season finale with 1,403 career points, just 19 points away from passing Maurice Bailey (2001-04) for the top-spot on SHU's Division I career scoring list
Last Meeting with Saint Francis (PA)... Sacred Heart's Shane Gibson poured in 26 points to lead the Pioneers to a 71-68 win at Saint Francis (PA) on January 12th. The Pioneers shot 56.1% (23-41) to overcome 22 turnovers in snapping a three-game NEC losing skid. Gibson made nine-of-12 from the field on his way to 26 points, his ninth 20-point game and sixth in seven games. Gibson also had five steals as the Pioneers had a season-high 12 takeaways in the win.
With the game tied 11-11 in the early minutes, SHU's Steve Glowiak finished off a three-point play off a steal and then drained a three from the right wing fuel a 9-0 spurt. The Pioneers extended their lead to 27-22 on Glowiak's second three and Gibson followed with a triple from the left corner for a 30-22 advantage with 4:10 left. Gibson sliced his way to the rim for a lay-up on the break to give SHU their biggest lead of the half at 32-24 with 3:21 to go. The Red Flash closed the gap, ripping off a 10-0 run to pull in front by a bucket with 15 ticks left. The Pioneers were able to answer back before the break as freshman Phil Gaetano was fouled at the top of the key just as he appeared to be hoisting a three to earn a trip to the line. Gaetano knocked down all three to send the Pioneers into the locker-room up 35-34. The Red Flash got a steal and a Whyatt lay-in to start the second half to take a 36-35 lead as head coach Dave Bike used a time-out just 21 seconds in. Saint Francis led by five, 50-45, with 11:48 left when SHU used a 16-3 run capped by a Gibson three from the right corner for a 61-53 lead with 7:50 left. From there, the Pioneers went cold and didn't make a basket for nearly six minutes, giving the Red Flash the chance to climb all the way back and tie it at 62-62 with 2:28 left. Gaetano delivered the biggest shot of the night with 1:54 left, drilling a straight-away three for a 65-62 lead, one they Pioneers would not relinquish. SHU hit six-of-six at the free throw line and despite a pair of Anthony Ervin three's, the Red Flash's last second chance to tie missed the mark to give the Pioneers the 71-68 win. Glowiak came off the bench for 11 points while Gaetano finished with nine points and nine assists, both career-highs.
Facing the Red Flash - Last 10 Meetings (SHU, 8-2)...
1/12/12 SHU 71 SFU 68 DeGol Arena
1/27/11 SFU 88 SHU 86 (ot) Pitt Center
2/20/10 SFU 73 SHU 68 DeGol Arena
2/14/09 SHU 72 SFU 57 DeGol Arena
1/8/09 SHU 76 SFU 60 Pitt Center
2/16/08 SHU 73 SFU 57 Pitt Center
1/20/07 SHU 72 SFU 64 DeGol Arena
12/9/06 SHU 103 SFU 91 Pitt Center
1/21/06 SHU 65 SFU 54 DeGol Arena
12/10/05 SHU 74 SFU 72 Pitt Center
Scouting the Red Flash... The Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash will close out their season on Saturday afternoon after being eliminated for postseason contention with a 77-44 loss at Quinnpiac on Thursday. The Red Flash have lost eight of their last nine coming in and are just 1-14 on the road this season. SFU was dealt an early season blow when their top-scorer from last season, Umar Shannon, was lost for the year with a knee injury after just one game. Sophomore Scott Eatherton leads the team in scoring and is 13th in the NEC at 14.2 points per game. Eatherton is ninth among NEC leaders in rebounding pulling down 7.1 per game. He leads the league in shooting, making 62.5% (158-253) of his shots. Junior guard Anthony Ervin also averages double figures at 10.9 ppg.