SACRED HEART (6-11, 4-2 NEC) VS. BRYANT (13-4, 6-0 NEC)
Game 18 * Thurs., Jan. 24, 2013 * Fairfield, CT * William H. Pitt Center
Setting the Scene... The Sacred Heart Pioneers are back at home Thursday night playing host to the first place Bryant Bulldogs. The Pioneers are fresh off a 2-2 four-game road swing that has them sitting at 4-2 overall and tied for second in the Northeast Conference standings. SHU ended their longest NEC road trip of the season with a 75-72 win at Saint Francis U on Saturday. Senior Shane Gibson has been a scoring machine in NEC games, averaging 24.0 ppg, tied with CCSU's Kyle Vinales for the league lead. The Bulldogs come an unbeaten 6-0 in league play and have been the surprise after being voted to finish ninth in the NEC Preseason Coaches Poll. After winning just twice last year the Bulldogs have grabbed 13 wins in 2012-13 and are riding a program-best eight game winning streak coming in. Bryant was 17th in this week's College Insider Mid-Major Top-25 poll.
Series Notes... Thursday night is the 25th meeting between SHU and Bryant.
- The Pioneers lead the all-time series 15-9.
- Since the Bulldogs became a member of the NEC, SHU leads the series 7-1.
- Sacred Heart swept the season series last year, winning at home 79-77 and on the road, 72-46.
- SHU's Shane Gibson scored a combined 64 points in the two wins last season.
- Prior to the 2008-09 season, the two teams hadn't met on the hardwood since the 1997-98 campaign.
- The two schools first met on the court in 1965-66, SHU's inaugural season.
Pioneers in the NEC... Sacred Heart is in its 14th season of play in the Northeast Conference in 2012-13.
- SHU is 102-142 in conference play since joining the league in 1999-2000.
- The Pioneers best finish in the league was second, a feat they accomplished twice, in 2006-07 and 2008-09.
- SHU has qualified for the Northeast Conference Tournament six times.
- SHU has made two NEC Championship game appearances, falling to Central Connecticut in 2007 and losing to Mount St. Mary's at home in 2008.
The Head Coaches... Dave Bike (Sacred Heart '69) begins his 35th year as the head coach of Sacred Heart University where he owns a career record of 523-488. 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. Tim O'Shea (Boston College '84) is in his fifth season on the Bryant University bench. Prior to becoming the seventh head coach in Bulldog program history, O'Shea spent seven seasons as the head coach at Ohio University where he recorded a 120-95 record. He led the Bobcats to the 2004-05 MAC Championship and spot in the NCAA Tournament. He had assistant coaching stints at Yale, Rhode Island and Boston College.
Up Next... The Pioneers are back on TV Saturday night playing host to the Monmouth Hawks live on MSG Plus2.