February 28, 2009
BRYANT FALLS, 90-60, TO SACRED HEART IN FINAL GAME OF THE SEASON
FAIRFIELD, CONN. - Sacred Heart shot 60 percent from the floor while hitting 15 threes in the game to help them get past the Bulldogs, 90-60, at the Pitt Center Saturday afternoon. It was the fifth-straight win for the Pioneers, who got 18 points apiece from Ryon Howard and Corey Hassan to lead the way.
Pete Lambert (Cumberland, R.I. / Cumberland), Andrew Lyell (Portsmouth, R.I. / Portsmouth), Ryan McLean (Plymouth, Mass. / Plymouth North) and Jerrann Wright (Cincinnati, Ohio / Dater) all played in their final games in a Bryant uniform, concluding their careers with 68 total wins, eight coming this year in the school's first season at Division I. Wright went out with a season-high 15 points, going 7-for-10 from the floor to pace the Bulldog offense. Lambert had nine, all coming from behind the arc, while Lyell added eight and McLean grabbed a rebound.
Bryant (8-21) just could not keep up with the lights out Sacred Heart shooting, as the Pioneers were 15-for-26 from downtown in the game. Hassan had six of those threes while Howard and Jerrell Thompson each hit three. The 15 threes were the second most the team had hit in a game this year, hitting 16 against LIU back on Feb. 7.
The Pioneers (16-13) connected on eight threes in 14 attempts in the first half, as Thompson and Hassan hit three each to stake the home team to a, 43-31, lead at the break. Thompson led all scorers with 11 points with Howard adding ten.
Sacred Heart shot 61.5 percent from the floor in the frame compared to 46.4 percent for Bryant. The Bulldogs had trouble hitting from the outside, going just 2-for-9 from three but were able to score 20 points in the paint, as Wright and Nick Pontes (New Bedford, Mass. / New Bedford) scored six each. Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine / Winthrop), starting in place of the injured Chris Birrell (Scituate, R.I. / Scituate), paced the offensive attack with seven points and four assists. Cecil Gresham (Bloomfield, Conn. / MCI) also had seven in the half, finishing with ten as the only other Bulldog in double figures.
The Bulldogs led by as many as four in the first half, following a two in the paint from Wright, giving Bryant a 13-9 lead with 15:23 left. The senior had six points in the first 4:30 of the game.
The two teams exchanged blows through the first seven minutes, with six lead changes and two ties in that stretch. The Bulldogs would claim their last lead after a Pontes jumper off the glass put Bryant up one at 15-14 with 13:29 left.
Hassan drilled a three on the next possession to give the Pioneers a lead that they would not relinquish. The shot triggered a 15-3 run that gave Sacred Heart control of the contest, as they held a 29-18 advantage at the 8:38 mark.
Six-straight from the Bulldogs cut the deficit to five, with Pontes scoring four and Gresham hitting a pair of free-throws, as they trailed 29-24 with 6:23 to go in the half. Sacred Heart responded with a 12-3 running including connecting on three from downtown to take their biggest lead of the half at 14 points with 2:12 remaining.
The second half started just like the first half, as Hassan hit to more threes to expand the lead to 19 at the 16:30 mark. Bryant continued to fight but just did not have the firepower to keep up with a red hot Pioneer team.
Head coach Tim O'Shea made the decision to stick with the four seniors with 8:56 to go. The seniors put together a strong effort before coming out of the game in the final minute.
The 90 points were the second most Bryant had surrendered this year, as they gave up 91 to Providence back on Dec. 22. The team finished their first season with eight wins, including six against future Northeast Conference opponents. Despite playing a very difficult schedule, the team was resilient all year, putting together one stretch of three-straight road wins. The squad is not eligible for post season play this year, and will have some time off before coming back for off-season workouts.