FAIRFIELD, CT (December 5, 2012) - The Sacred Heart Pioneers battled back from down 17-points in the second half to tie the game late but came up short in their comeback bid, falling to the Holy Cross Crusaders, 83-78, Wednesday night in the William H. Pitt Center. Holy Cross sophomore guard Justin Burrell buried 11-of-15 shots on his way to a career-high 30 point night in the win.
The Crusaders (5-4) came in averaging 54.1 ppg game offensively and nearly hit that mark by halftime thanks to some blistering shooting (64.3%). Burrell had 20 of his 30 in the first half and led a firestorm from behind the three point arc burying his first four three's. The Crusaders finished eight of 15 from three in the first half (53.3%) and built a 46-32 lead into the half.
SHU (2-5) found themselves in a quick 8-0 hole as Burell and junior Dave Dudzinski buried three's on HC's first two possessions. Three's on three-straight trips, two by Burrell, gave the Crusaders a 22-8 lead just under six minutes into the game. The Pioneers answered with consecutive triples by senior Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) and sophomore Steve Glowiak (New Britain, CT) to cut to within 22-14 but the Holy Cross offense continued to click.
Senior center Phil Beans converted on two-straight possesions and after a missed three produced a long rebound, Burrell got loose for a fast-break lay-in and a 38-23 lead with 5:45 left in the half. SHU got it down to 10 on Glowiak's third three of the half but Holy Cross closed the last four minutes with a 8-4 spurt highlighted by three's from Dudzinski and Beans.
Beans pushed the halftime lead to 48-32 with an jumper to start the second half but the Pioneers quickly forced HC head coach Milan Brown to burn a time-out at 18:14 after consecutive lay-ups by senior Femi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia) and Gibson. Holy Cross came out of the time-out and built their lead to its high water mark of 59-42 on another Burrell fast-break bucket with 13:39 left.
The Pioneers dug in and started to chip away, cutting the lead to single digits by the 10 minute mark thanks to an 11-1 run. Freshman De'Aires Tate (Lithonia, GA) sparked the rally with a pair of buckets and a tip-in on the rally. A Gibson three at 10:12 pulled the Pioneers within 60-53.
Holy Cross pushed the lead back to double digits, 66-55 with just under eight to play but the Pioneers refused to go away. SHU whittled the lead down to seven with four minutes left thanks to sharp shooting at the charity stripe and Glowiak buried his fourth three of the night at 3:22 to get the Pioneers to within 72-68.
A Tate jumper at 2:28 pulled the Pioneers to within a bucket and Gibson got to the free throw line on the next possession with a chance to tie. Coming out of the media time-out, the senior guard buried both and the Pioneers completed a 17-6 run to tie the game at 72-72 with 2:28 to play.
Holy Cross went to Burrell on the ensuing possession but his miss produced what would be the play of the night. His shot missed the mark completely and Beans chased down the loose ball rebound and while falling out of bounds found Jordan Stevens on the wing for a back-breaking three just as the shot clock horn sounded. The Crusaders got a pair of stops and added to their lead at the free throw line, 78-72, with 43 seconds left.
Gibson drilled a pair of three's in the closing seconds but Holy Cross did the job at the free throw line, making five-of-six to put the game away. Gibson led four Pioneers in double figures with 24 points on seven-of-18 shooting. Glowiak came off the bench and hit four-of-seven from three to finish with a season-high 14 points.
Junior Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) had 16 points on six-of-10 shooting while Tate added a season-best 10 points, six boards and a block off the bench.
Burrell combined with Beans and Dudzinski to score 67 of Holy Cross's 83 points. Dudzinski had 19 and Beans 18 while both collected five rebounds in the win. The Crusaders finished the game shooting 52.7 percent (29-55) as a team.
The Pioneers return to the court on Sunday, December 9th when they head to Lafayette. Tip-off is at 2:00 pm.