SMITHFIELD, R.I. – With control of its own postseason fate, the Bryant University men's basketball team used a dominating second-half run to pull away from Sacred Heart at home, avenging an earlier loss to the Pioneers with an 84-68 victory at the Chace Athletic Center Monday night.
Just one day shy of the two-year mark since the program's last game to feature a pair of double-doubles, senior point guard Frankie Dobbs (Berea, Ohio) and junior forward Alex Francis (Harlem, N.Y.) reset the clock on the statistic, pacing the Bulldogs (18-9, 11-5 Northeast Conference) to Monday's victory.
Dobbs picked up his second double-double of the year and fourth of his career with 17 points and 10 assists, also grabbing a career-high seven steals. Francis would add 15 with 10 boards on a 6-for-9 day from the field for his eighth double-double of the year and 24th of his career, while sophomore sharpshooter Dyami Starks (Duluth, Minn.) would lead the home side with 25 points, the 12th 20-point game of his 2012-13 season. Junior guard Corey Maynard (Adelaide, Australia) also finished in double figures with 13 points.
Senior Shane Gibson, who scored his 2000th-career point in the outing, paced the game with 30 points for the Pioneers (9-18, 7-9), who also got 16 points and nine rebounds from Louis Montes.
With two games left to play in the regular season, the Bulldogs continue to have a say in where they will be seeded in next week's Northeast Conference Tournament, as Bryant would earn hosting rights throughout the eighth-team playoff should it win the remainder of the schedule.
Dobbs would snap an 18-18 tie just over nine minutes into Monday's contest with a triple from the right side, breaking free of his defender to give the Bulldogs a bit of separation, 21-18, and a fadeaway jumper followed by another 3-pointer at the top of the arc from the senior captain put the hosts ahead, 26-20, with 9:30 left to play in the first.
The hosts' largest lead of the stanza would come with 7:10 to go, a 31-22 advantage after a jumper from Starks, but the Pioneers closed the gap to four twice to take the clock below four minutes.
SHU cut the game to three, 35-32, with 2:24 left in the half, but a trifecta from Maynard and layup by Francis renewed an eight-point advantage with 1:47 remaining. Gibson would lay in a fastbreak bucket as the clock ticked under a minute for the final score of the session, but the Black and Gold would head to the locker room with a 40-34 lead.
Out of the intermission, Gibson would score five quick points to help the visitors cut Bryant's edge to just one, 43-42, less than two minutes in, but a Francis dunk and a three-point play from Dobbs started a 10-0 run that gave the Bulldogs their first double-digit cushion of the day, 53-42, with 15:10 to go. The streak was part of a longer 17-2 stretch that put the home side up, 60-44, with 13:28 to play, capped off by the second triple of the day from Starks.
The Bulldogs couldn't push their lead to 20 in the opening 10 minutes of the frame, but Sacred Heart couldn't get closer than 13 either, and Bryant held a 72-53 advantage after a Joe O'Shea (Burlington, Vt.) 3-pointer with 8:33 left in the contest.
Bryant's lead would grow as great as 23 points, 76-53, with 7:25 left in the game, and while the Pioneers would slim the margin to 16 in the final seconds, the Bulldogs would go on to win handily at home, 84-68.
The Bulldogs shot 56.1 percent on the day with a 42.9 percent clip from beyond the arc, while the Pioneers converted 43.3 percent from the field. Neither team shot well from the free throw line, with Bryant's 64.7 percent clip (11-17) trumping SHU's .533 mark (8-15) from the stripe. The visitors would win the war on the glass, 34-32, and the Black and Gold would dish out 20 assists with a season-high 12 thefts on the night.
Bryant remains at home for its final two regular-season games, hosting league leader Robert Morris Thursday night at 7 p.m. before welcoming Saint Francis U. for the finale Saturday at 4 p.m.