STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's College (2-4, 1-0 GNAC) halted a four-game skid with an 82-63 victory over Johnson & Wales University (1-4, 0-1 GNAC) in what was the 2013-14 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) men's basketball opener for both teams at the Harold AlfondHarold Alfond Centeron Tuesday night.
Senior forward Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, Maine) led a quartet of double-digit scorers for the Monks with 25 points off an outstanding 11-16 shooting performance in the triumph. Senior guard Matthew Medeiros (Westport, Mass.) and junior forward Zach Blodgett (Glenburn, Maine) netted 18 apiece and junior guard Steve Simonds (Steep Falls, Maine) tallied 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists for the hosts.
Sophomore guard Robert Lewis (Providence, R.I.) finished as the Wildcats' top scorer with 20 points off a 5-10 three-point shooting effort while sophomore guard Quarry Greenaway (Westchester, N.Y.) added 16 and senior guard Curtis Lucas (Providence, R.I.) netted 13 with six assists in a losing bid.
The lead changed hands four times and was tied on four occasions in the opening seven-plus minutes of the first half, but the final swing of the game occurred when Blodgett drained a pair of free throws to lift his team to a 14-13 edge with 12:38 before the break.
The Monks held at least a share of the lead for the remainder of the night and led 31-28 after Blodgett converted a layup with 6:49 left in the first half. But the Wildcats followed with a 10-2 run to knot the contest at 33-all, a burst that was capped with a pair of freebies from senior guard Esaie Touze (Providence, R.I.) at the 3:25 mark of the opening frame.
Unfazed, Saint Joseph's proceeded to notch a 12-0 offensive outburst that would ultimately put the game out of reach for the visitors. Medeiros closed out the onslaught with the three-pointer off a Craig Luschenat (Boston, Mass.) assist with 45 seconds remaining in the first half.
Johnson & Wales managed to net four unanswered points during the final 20 seconds of the first period to make it a 45-39 game going into intermission, but Saint Joseph's negated the effort by opening the second stanza with a 10-2 scoring surge en route to securing a 53-39 cushion. Medeiros drained a trifecta to close out the run and lift the Royal Blue to a 14-point lead with 17:38 to play.
Minutes later, the Wildcats would cut their deficit down to six points, as a pair of Lewis three-points made it a 57-51 contest with 12:59 on the clock. The momentum swung back in the hosts' favor on their next possession, as Jobin threw down a rim-rattling dunk off a perfect Medeiros feed 21 seconds later. Blodgett converted a layup at the 12:17 mark to make it a 61-51 game and the Monks would lead by double-digits for the remainder of the evening.
Jobin converted a traditional three-point play with 3:57 remaining to increase the Monks' lead to 78-58, a 20-point cushion that proved to be the largest margin of the contest.
Saint Joseph's shot 55% (33-60) from the floor, 38.1% (8-21) from three-point distance and 61.5% (8-13) from the free throw line in the conference victory. Johnson & Wales countered with a 39% (23-59) effort from the field while shooting 32.1% (9-28) from downtown and 66.7% (8-12) from the charity stripe in a losing effort.
The Monks held advantages in points in the paint (42-26), bench points (23-6), second-chance points (17-13) and points off turnovers (17-12) in the victory.
Saint Joseph's will close out the 2013 calendar year with a pair of conference contests on the road, beginning with a GNAC tilt at Suffolk University on Thursday at 7:30 PM. The Monks also travel to Nashua, New Hampshire for a 7:00 PM game at Rivier University.
Johnson & Wales is set to host GNAC-rival Lasell College on Thursday at 7:00 PM.
Saint Joseph's improves to 8-5 all-time versus Johnson & Wales with tonight's victory… the 82-63 final score signifies the largest winning margin in the six-year history of the series…previously, the biggest margin of victory was recorded in a 106-90 JWU triumph on February 8th, 2011…eight of the 13 meetings have been decided by eight or fewer points…the Monks are now 18-8 all-time against opponents from Rhode Island…the victory snaps a four-game losing streak for Saint Joseph's - the longest string of losses since the 2003-04 campaign, which was Coach Sanicola's first season at the helm...freshman Andrew Ruffen made his collegiate debut in the lopsided victory…sophomores Davis Tucker and Jake Downing made their season debuts tonight…Simonds surpassed the 400-point plateau in the triumph and now has 403 points over 46 career contests…UP NEXT: Saint Joseph's plays at Suffolk University on Thursday…the Monks are 9-2 in the history of the series versus the Rams…Suffolk defeated St. Joe's, 77-68, in the last meeting between the GNAC rivals – a contest that was played in Boston on December 1st, 2012.
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 430-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.