STANDISH, ME – Senior guard Tyler Kelley (Saco, ME) led four Monks in double-digits with 17 points in a 69-67 Saint Joseph's (2-0) victory over 2010 NCAA Tournament participant University of Maine-Farmington (1-2) in a thriller at the Harold Alfond Center on Tuesday night.
Neither team held more than an eight point lead in a game that featured eight lead changes and stood at a stalemate on seven occasions. The Monks wouldn't take the lead for good until exactly one minute remained when Kelley scored on a backdoor play to break a 64-64 tie.
Zach O'Brien '12 (Schenectady, NY) fell three assists short of a triple-double for St. Joe's with 14 points, a game-high 10 rebounds, and seven helpers. Chris Petzy '12 (Kensington, NH) managed to put up 15 points with six boards, and Matthew Medeiros '14 (Westport, MA) added 12 points in 14 minutes in his first collegiate action.
Beavers senior Eric Taylor (Oakland, ME) was nearly unstoppable in a losing effort, as the 6'5" forward scored a game-high 27 points off a 12-18 shooting effort and collected eight caroms. Pet Sumner '14 (Cramerton, NC), who went 4-5 from beyond the arc, and Yusuf Iman '14 (Auburn, ME) both chipped in with 14 points in the UMF loss.
With the help of five points from Kelley, the Monks opened the game on a 7-2 run over the first 3:12 of play. The lead diminished as quickly as it was attained, however, as Farmington hit a trio of treys and outscored the Royal Blue, 11-2, over the next four minutes to secure a 13-9 lead.
With a stable of long-range shooters, the Monks were up to the firefight and used the longball to earn a 16-15 edge with 9:33 remaining in the first half. Medeiros lifted St. Joe's to the one-point cushion with a pair of three-pointers, as the rookie sharpshooter drained the first two shots of his NCAA career.
A jumpshot by UMF center Ben Johnson '14 (Manchester, ME) negated the SJC lead, but a 7-0 run by the Monks put the hosts up by eight, 23-15, after Kelley hit a jumper in the lane to cap the surge with 6:55 before the half. O'Brien accounted for the remaining five points in the scoring outburst.
Saint Joseph's went on to maintain at least a four-point lead for all but a fraction of a second in the first half, as Iman banked in a long three as time expired to cut the Beavers' deficit to 32-29 heading into the locker room.
St. Joe's shot 36.7% (11-30) from the floor, 33.3% (4-12) from three-point distance, and 85.7% (6-7) from the FT line in the first half. Farmington countered by shooting 37.5% (12-32) from the field and 55.6% (5-9) from beyond the arc. The Beavers failed to get to the foul line in the opening stanza.
Taylor led all first-half scorers with 10 points, while Kelley netted eight over the first 20 minutes of play.
The second half did not start off well for the Monks, as a turnover and a missed shot turned into four quick UMF points, all scored by Taylor, and the visitors led 33-32 with 18:43 to go.
Over the next seven minutes, the game was tied on four occasions and the teams swapped leads four times. Neither team held an advantage of more than three points until the Beavers put up six straight points to take a 46-42 lead with 11:01 remaining.
The Monks took the lead after O'Brien hit a jumpshot and Petzy connected on a three-pointer over the following 16 seconds, but a Sumner longball and an easy bucket by Taylor lifted the Beavers back up to a four-point lead, 51-47, with 10:09 to play.
Petzy proceeded to hit another three to make it a one-point game once again and O'Brien converted a jumper at the 8:26 mark to put the Monks ahead by the slimmest of margins. A Julio Vazquez '13 (Waterbury, CT) freebie made it a two-point game, but the Beavers charged back with a jumpshot from Taylor and a three-ball by Iman to take a 56-53 lead with 7:22 left.
Over the next three minutes, a Nicholas Jobin '14 (Westbrook, ME) bucket and a three from Kelley helped offset a traditional three-point play by Taylor, as the teams stood at a 59-all stalemate with 4:41 on the game clock. After being fouled on a shot by Petzy, Taylor converted both free-throw attempts to put his team up by two over a minute later.
Kelley came up clutch with a three-pointer on the Monks' next possession, but Sumner followed with a longball 12 seconds later to help the Beavers maintain the two-point lead, 64-62, with 2:08 remaining.
Petzy, who drove the lane with a combination of force and control all night, tied the game with a nifty move under the hoop with 1:41 minute left and Kelley nailed a jumpshot 41 seconds later to give the Monks the lead for good, as it played out.
Petzy proceeded to make both free throw attempts with four seconds left to make it a 68-64 game, but a drawn-up play by the UMF coaching staff resulted in a wide-open three-point shot, which was made by Andrew Dean '12 (Gorham, ME) to cut the Beavers deficit to 68-67 with 1.6 seconds on the clock. O'Brien was fouled on the ensuing in-bounds play and made the first free-throw bid, but the second rattled the rim and found the hands of Taylor, who sent a baseball throw down court that clanged off the edge of the backboard.
For the game, St. Joe's shot 43.1% (25-58) from the floor, 42.1% (8-19) from three-point range, and 57.9% (11-19) from the line. Farmington shot 41.5% (27-65) from the field, 40.9% (9-22) from long distance, and went 4-5 from the charity stripe. St. Joe's held a 43-32 advantage on the glass en route to the victory.
With the win, Saint Joseph's improves to 50-18 against Farmington in the history of the matchup. The margin of victory for the winner has been six points or less in four of the last five meetings between the former conference rivals.
Saint Joseph's will take on Southern Maine in Gorham on Sunday night at 7:30 PM, while Maine-Farmington is set to host Colby College next Thursday at 7:00 PM.