BROOKLYN, N.Y. (February 28, 2013) – Sacred Heart senior Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) scored a game-high 25 points but LIU Brooklyn's Jamal Olasewere scored his final points of the night with 10 seconds left to give the Blackbirds the lead for good and help deliver a 70-68 win Thursday night at the WRAC in Brooklyn. The Pioneers drop to 7-10 overall and will play at St. Francis Brooklyn on Saturday with the winner earning the final spot in the Northeast Conference Tournament.
Gibson drilled five-of-10 from three point range on Thursday, none bigger than a straight away triple with LIU's C.J. Garner right in his face with 21.3 seconds left to give the Pioneers a 67-66 lead. Olasewere, who finished with 16 points on just five-18 shooting, bulled his way to the basket on the next possession, finding a way to squeeze a leaner over two SHU defenders for two with just 10 ticks left.
The Pioneers went to Gibson who beat his man and looked for a cutting Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) but misfired out of bounds. After Garner made both free throw to extend the Blackbird lead to three they elected to foul SHU point guard Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, CT) sending him to the line with just under two seconds left. Gaetano made the first and intentionally missed the second but the loose ball was batted around before SHU's Tevon Falzon (Newton, MA) threw a wild shot that missed at the buzzer giving the Blackbirds the 70-68 win.
The two teams let fly from behind the three-point arc in the first half with SHU making six-of-11 and LIU Brooklyn hitting five-of-14. Gibson buried three of SHU's six threes and finished the first half with 11 points. After SHU took a 30-29 lead on Gibson's third three with just over five minutes left, the Blackbirds finished the first half on a 9-3 spurt to lead 38-33 at the break. Brickman, who had eight first half assists, buried a three and Reed, who had 10 first half points, finished the first half scoring with a lay-up.
Gibson's fourth three of the night tied the game at 48-48 with 13:06 to go but the senior guard was held without a field goal by the Blackbirds until his three with 21.3 seconds left. Instead of faltering and letting LIU pull away, SHU road the back of Montes grabbed a four point lead three times in the closing minutes.
Montes scored eight-straight points for SHU and gave his Pioneers a 62-58 lead with 3:28 left. LIU got a runner from Garner off a SHU turnover and after a pair of Gibson free throws pushed the lead back to four with 1:53 left, E.J. Reed drilled an open straight away three to cut to within 64-63. Olasewere made three of four at the line to put his team up 66-64 before Gibson's three late gave the Pioneers the late edge.
Thursday's game featured a match-up of the NEC's top-two point guards in Gaetano and LIU's Jason Brickman and both delivered. Brickman finished with 12 assists against just one turnover while Gaetano had 11 assists against three miscues, his 11th game this season with double digit assists.
Montes and sophomore guard Steve Glowiak (New Britain, CT) each had 13 points for the Pioneers. SHU shot 47.1 percent (24-51) in the loss.
Olasewere finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds while Garner chipped in 15 points for LIU. Reed came off the bench and scored 18 for the Blackbirds.
The Pioneers and St. Francis Brooklyn will head into the regular season finale with matching 7-10 records. SHU won the first meeting back in January, 66-65 at home. The game will be available live and free at NECFrontRow.com.