BIDDEFORD, ME – Saint Joseph's (1-0) opened up a 21-1 lead in the first seven minutes and never looked back, as the Monks rolled to an 85-53 win over University of New England (0-2) in a non-conference men's basketball contest on Wednesday night. Tyler Kelley '11 (Saco, ME) tallied a game-high 15 points off a 5-6 effort from downtown to lead four SJC players in double digits.
With the help of an effective full-court press, the Monks opened the game by scoring 15 unanswered points with many of the baskets in transition, as the Royal Blue forced 10 turnovers in the first five minutes. St. Joe's built an insurmountable lead early by shooting a scorching 67.9% (19-28) from the floor, including a 4-6 performance from three-point distance, in the first half.
Sixteen St. Joe's players appeared in the lopsided contest, including seven newcomers who made their NCAA debut: Nicholas Jobin '14 (Westbrook, ME), James Philbrook '14 (Auburn, ME), Clark Noonan '14 (Bangor, ME), Terence Cullen '14 (Massapequa, NY), Chinyere Ibezim '14 (Queens, NY), Bruno Cavallo '14 (Hampton Bays, NY), and Luca D'Aiuto '14 (Cambridge, NY). Sean McCloskey '12 (Valley Stream, NY) also made his Saint Joseph's debut in the victory.
Chris Petzy '12 (Kensington, NH), Zach O'Brien '12 (Schenectady, NY) and Julio Vazquez '13 (Waterbury, CT) combined to score 33 of the Monks' 47 first-half points as the visitors strolled into intermission with a cushy 47-19 advantage.
A Kelley longball on the Monks' first possession of the second stanza propelled the Royal Blue to a 31-point lead, 50-19. St. Joe's went on to maintain a 30-point advantage for the majority of play and secured a game-high 36-point lead when Philbrook converted a free throw attempt with 11:54 remaining.
The Monks shot 56.1% (32-57) from the floor, 61.5% (8-13) from three-point range, and 59.1% (13-22) from the line in the victory. The Nor'easters countered by shooting 38.8% (19-49) from the field, 20% (4-20) from beyond the arc, and 45.8% (11-24) from the charity stripe. St. Joe's outworked UNE on the boards with a 35-28 lead in rebounds, including 24 on the defensive end.
With the victory, Saint Joseph's improves to 66-9 against University of New England in the history of the matchup. The Nor'easters have not defeated the Monks since 1989. The Monks' scoring output was the team's highest in a season-opener since the Royal Blue defeated Southern Maine, 88-86, in the first game of the 2002-03 campaign.
The margin of victory is the most in an SJC opener since the Monks blasted Gordon College by a 102-64 score on November 23rd, 1993.
For the Monks, Petzy netted 13 points, O'Brien recorded 12 points and six assists, and Vazquez tallied 10 points – a career-high - with three assists and was a perfect 5-5 from the field. Tom Ray '12 (Cape Elizabeth, ME) logged valuable minutes and chipped in with six points and four rebounds, Philbrook registered six points, three assists and two steals, and Eric Friend '11 (Portland, ME/Cheverus) scored six points and grabbed four caroms in six minutes of mop-up duty.
Jobin and Cullen both dropped four points in their collegiate debuts and Anthony Savino '11 (Portland, ME/Cheverus) added four points, four rebounds, three dimes and two rejections for the Royal Blue. In all, 13 different St. Joe's players found their way into the scoring column.
For Kelley, the quintet of trifectas ties a career high and pushes him into seventh all-time at St. Joe's in three-pointers made.
For the Nor'easters, Ryan Knotek '12 (Saratoga Springs, NY) went 5-for-5 after halftime to tally a team-high 14 points to go along with six boards. Classmate Marcus Winn (Austin, TX) chipped in with 10 points.
The Monks return to Standish for their home-opener Tuesday against Maine-Farmington in a 7:00 PM tip, while UNE will play in the Blazer Tip-Off Tournament hosted by Elms College this weekend.