FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Pioneers put up seven blocks and posted a pair of 20-point scorers Thursday night, as Sacred Heart handed the Bryant University men's basketball team its first Northeast Conference loss of the season and first defeat since Dec. 10, 87-76, at the William H. Pitt Center.
Sophomore guard Dyami Starks (Duluth, Minn.) scored a game-best 28 points off a career-high 10 field goals including five 3-pointers, finishing the game one point shy of his career high. He was one of three double-figure scorers for the Bulldogs (13-5, 6-1 NEC), who shot 49.2 percent from the floor but allowed the Pioneers (7-11, 5-2) to convert better than 61 percent from the field to snap Bryant's eight-game winning streak.
Shane Gibson (26 points) and Steve Glowiak (21) were on fire from beyond the arc all night, combining for a 9-of-19 mark to lead Sacred Heart to a 45.5 percent shooting clip from long range. Gibson also went 6-for-6 from the line and was one of three Pioneers with eight buckets on the night, including a perfect 8-for-8 performance from forward Louis Montes (16 points).
The breakneck pace of the game favored a Pioneer side that was quick in transition and strong down low, thanks in part to one of the best passers in the league in Phil Gaetano (11 assists). The Pioneers dominated the Bulldogs on the glass, outrebounding the Black and Gold, 37-23, and scoring 18 second-chance points off 12 offensive boards.
After a fast-paced first half that saw five ties, two lead changes and both teams go out in front by at least two possessions, the Pioneers would open the second half on a 13-2 run, extending their five-point halftime lead to 13 points, 57-44, less than five minutes in.
Sacred Heart would continue to up its lead, taking a 17-point advantage at the 11:34 mark off another Glowiak triple, before the Bulldogs responded with the next six points to pull back within 11, 67-56, with 9:10 to play. But another 12-3 Pioneer run put the game all but out of reach, as the home team took a 20-point, 79-59, advantage with less than six to play.
Bryant would make up some ground from there, scoring eight points during a 3:21 Pioneer dry streak to narrow the deficit to 79-67, but the Bulldogs would run out of time, forced to send the hosts to the line where they got what was necessary to secure the 87-76 victory.
In the first half, the Bulldogs played from behind for the first 10 minutes before knotting the score at 22-22 off a Joe O'Shea (Burlington, Vt.) three. Bryant used the trifecta to jump start an 11-0 run that took the clock down to 7:16 and gave the visitors a 30-22 advantage, their largest of the half.
Sacred Heart responded with eight uninterrupted points of its own, though, tying the game at 30-30 with just under six minutes left in the frame. It was part of a 14-4 run lasted nearly four minutes and gave Sacred Heart a 37-34 edge. Dobbs would close the deficit to one, 37-36, but the last two minutes would slant toward the hosts, 7-3, to send the Bulldogs into the break with a deficit for just the fourth time this year.
Junior Corey Maynard (Adelaide, Australia) chipped in 14 points off a 6-of-12 shooting performance at day's end, while O'Shea added 11 on 4-for-5 shooting, including a make on his only 3-point attempt of the night. Bryant shot just 64.3 percent from the charity stripe as a team, despite going 3-for-3 from the line in the opening stanza.