FAIRFIELD, Conn – The Sacred Heart men's basketball team did not score in the final eight minutes and ten seconds of the first half and finished the game shooting 26.2 percent (16-of-61) from the floor en route to a 62-55 loss to Wagner Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers' 55 points and 26.2 shooting percentage are the lowest since Sacred Heart's opening game of the season against Fairfield. Sacred Heart has now lost eight consecutive games for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) was the only offensive bright spot for Sacred Heart, as he led the Pioneers with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) had 13 points on 3-of-17 shooting. As a team, the Pioneers shot a season-low 14.8 percent (4-of-27) from behind the three-point line.
Kenneth Ortiz and Jay Harris both scored 15 points for Wagner, while Orlando Parker chipped in with 8 point and a team-high 14 rebounds.
Sacred Heart and Wagner battled back and forth to begin the game with Montes having the hot hand early for the Pioneers. The senior forward knocked down back-to-back threes to give SHU an early 8-6 lead. He hit another jumper to put SHU up 14-11 with 13:09 left in the first.
Wagner stayed right behind SHU with Harris knocking down a three-ball to make it 16-14 SHU with 11:21 left.
Knotted up at 18 with 8:11 left, Steve Glowiak (New Britain) drilled a three-pointer which would end up being Sacred Heart's final points of the first half. Sacred Heart shot 23.3 percent (7-of-30) from the floor in the first half.
The Seahawks finished the first half on a 14-0 run, capitalizing on Sacred Heart missing its final nine shots of the half and turning the ball over three times. Wagner also had eight offensive rebounds in the final eight plus minutes.
It did not get much better offensively for Sacred Heart in the second half, but solid defense kept them in the game. The Pioneers made their first field goal of the second half at the 16:54 mark, making it over 11 minutes of game time in which SHU did not record a field goal. Mostafa Abdel Latif (Alexandria, Egypt) put an end to the drought with a lay-in, off a nice pass from Kelley.
Wagner's lead ballooned all the way up to 17 points with 8:21 left in the second. Latif Rivers made three free throws off after getting fouled shooting a three-pointer, while Langston Burnett knocked down a conventional three-ball to put Wagner up 53-36.
Sacred Heart made a little interesting toward the end of the second half as Kelley started to get to the basket and finish off lay-ups. The Pioneers cut it to 13 after Kelley converted a three-point play with 2:14 left. Kelley again put in a lay-up plus the foul with 1:24 left to cut the lead to eight, the closest SHU would end up getting.
Although SHU struggled from pretty much everywhere else on the floor, the Pioneers did make 19 of 23 free throws (82.6 percent). Montes was five of six from the charity stripe.
Sacred Heart wraps up their five game home stand with a Thursday night match-up against the Blackbirds of LIU Brooklyn.
Notes: Sacred Heart's last two home games have been the two largest crowds of the season at the Pitt Center.