FAIRFIELD, Conn – The Sacred Heart Pioneers had four players score in double digits Sunday afternoon, but could not overcome a hot-shooting Hartford team, falling to the Hawks 84-72, at the Pitt Center. SHU falls to 2-8 this season, while Hartford improves to 4-8.
Redshirt junior Chris Evans (Stamford, CT) and senior Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) led the way for the Pioneers, putting in 16 points apiece. Redshirt junior guard Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) chipped in with 15 points, while freshman De'Von Barnett (Waldorf, MD) added ten points. Junior guard Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, CT) notched nine assists in the loss.
Senior forward Mark Nwakamma poured in a team-high 21 points for Hartford, while Evan Cooper drilled five three-pointers on his way to 17 points. As a team, Hartford knocked down 10-of-20 (50%) from beyond the three-point line.
Hartford got out to an early 5-0 lead behind a three-pointer from Evan Cooper followed by a Corben Wroe lay-up. Kelley put the Pioneers on the board with a lay-up of his own to cut the score to 5-2.
Sacred Heart took its only lead of the first half at 8-7 after four consecutive free throws from Gaetano and Kelley. Hartford responded with a 15-6 run to take a 22-14 lead with 10:19 left in the first half. Taylor Dyson capped off the run with a three-pointer. SHU was able to weather storm, starting with a three-pointer from Steve Glowiak (New Britain, CT), one of three trifectas for the junior in the first half. Hartford and the Pioneers exchanged baskets to end the first half with Hartford taking a 41-36 lead into halftime.
Sacred Heart battled back in the second half, eventually taking the lead on a put-back dunk by freshman De'Von Barnett. Barnett slammed home a Chris Evans missed lay-up in transition to give the Pioneers a 52-51 lead with 11:33 remaining. After both teams exchanged free throws, Hartford seized control of the game with a 20-7 run to take a 75-64 lead with 4:33 left in the second half. Down 57-55, Evan Cooper kick-started the Hartford run with back-to-back threes to give the Hawks a 61-57 lead with 8:36 remaining. Hartford salted the game away from the free throw line, going 9-of-10 from the charity stripe in the final 2:45 of the game.
In closing out 2013, the Pioneers head out west to participate in the Continental Tires Las Vegas Classic. SHU will start out in California for a game at Santa Clara before heading to Las Vegas to close out the classic with three more games.