GORHAM, ME – St. Joe's (3-0) defeated Southern Maine (4-1), 81-75, to retain possession of the coveted Costello Cup, which is awarded to the winner of the rivalry contest each year. Senior guard Tyler Kelley (Saco, ME) paced the Monks with 27 points and was 11-14 from the floor in the victory.
With the win, Saint Joseph's takes the Costello Cup, which honors the late "Doc" Costello, former USM Athletic Director and longtime basketball coach, for the third consecutive season and improves to 13-8 in the history of the Costello Cup series. The combined points total scored in a Monks-Huskies game since St. Joe's topped USM by an 83-78 margin on January 3rd, 2005.
USM held at least a share of the lead for the entire first half with the help of an astounding 7-10 performance from beyond the arc. Fortunately for the Monks, the Huskies' deep threats cooled with a 4-11 effort in the second stanza while the Royal Blue methodically chipped away at the 44-37 halftime deficit en route to a six-point triumph.
The fast-paced game featured five lead changes and was tied on nine occasions, but the Monks took the lead for good, as it turned out, when Chris Petzy '12 (Kensington, NH) drained a three-pointer with 7:21 remaining in the game.
Saint Joseph's collected its first lead of the game when Zach O'Brien '12 (Schenectady, NY) drained a longball at the 14:52 mark to put the Monks up 13-10, but Otis Smith '11 (Altamonte Springs, FL) went on to score 10 points during a 15-2 run over the next five minutes to propel the Huskies to a 25-15 cushion with 9:16 left in the first half.
Three minutes later, a trifecta from Sean Bergeron '12 (Kennebunk, ME) extended the hosts' lead to a game-high 11 points. Petzy converted a traditional three-point play on the Monks' next trip down the floor, but Conor Sullivan '14 (Scarborough, ME) connected on a jumpshot to put the Huskies back up by double digits and 6:01 to go in the first.
Although the events that followed would not put the Monks in front, there is little doubt that the individual effort by Kelley over the next two minutes changed the scope of the game and may be remembered as the finest 120 seconds by a Monk this season.
Trailing by 10 after Sullivan's trey, Kelley proceeded to fill the bucket with 11 points off a 3-3 effort from beyond the arc and a backdoor layup with an assist from O'Brien. Kelley's lights-out shooting cut the USM lead to three points and helped offset jumpers by Mike Poulin '12 (Readfield, ME) and Bergeron over the two-minute span.
USM guard Corteze Isaac '11 (Germantown, MD) proceeded to nail a three, but two Petzy freebies and a layup by Sean McCloskey '12 (Valley Stream, NY) made it a two-point game with 2:43 remaining in the first period. Isaac and Poulin baskets offset a Kelley jumper in the final minute and Isaac heaved a near-half-court shot into the hoop to give the Huskies a 44-37 lead going into the locker room.
St. Joe's shot 48.4% (15-31) from the floor, 44.4% (4-9) from three-point range and went 3-3 from the FT line in the first half. Southern Maine shot a blistering 58.1% (18-31) from the field, 70% (7-10) from beyond the arc and went 1-1 from the charity stripe over the first 20 minutes of play.
Adjustments assigned by the Monks' brain trust during the intermission certainly paid off, as the Royal Blue opened the second stanza with an 11-2 run to take a 48-46 lead with 17:10 on the clock. Over the first 2:50 of the latter half, the Monks shot 5-6 from the floor while a swarming defensive effort did not allow the Huskies a basket. Petzy connected on a three-pointer 2:12 into the half and, after an Isaac turnover, O'Brien hit a jumpshot to provide St. Joe's with its first lead since the 14:52 mark of the first half.
Neither team was able to maintain a lead of more than three points over the next nine minutes, a span that featured four tie scores. Southern Maine secured a four-point cushion, 62-58, after Leif O'Connell '12 (Hodgdon, ME) hit two free throws at the 9:33 mark and Poulin made a close-range basket with 8:15 to go.
Kelley went on to cut the Huskies' lead to two with a layup 29 seconds later and Petzy took away the hosts' final lead of the game with a trifecta at the 7:21 mark, which put the Monks on top, 63-62.
Leading 65-64, Saint Joseph's mustered a modest 5-0 run to collect a six point advantage. Petzy made a free throw and a layup and Anthony Savino '11 (Portland, ME/Cheverus) connected on a jumpshot during the SJC microburst.
After a timeout with 5:18 to go, Southern Maine guard Troy Jellison '11 (Bangor, ME) willed his team back in the game by scoring all seven of the Huskies points over the following two and a half minutes. His final bucket, a three-pointer at the 2:54 mark, cut the Monks' lead to one point, 72-71.
Four freebies, by Kelley and Petzy, over the subsequent 93 seconds lifted the Royal Blue to a 76-71 advantage. Isaac countered by making all four of his FT attempts to make it a three-point game with 35 seconds left, but a jumpshot by O'Brien and a free throw by Petzy in the closing seconds secured the victory for the Monks.
St. Joe's shot 51.7% (31-60) overall, 50% (7-14) from three-point range and 80% (12-15) from the line. USM shot 50.9% (27-53) from the field, 47.6% (10-21) from beyond the arc and went a perfect 11-11 from the charity stripe in the loss. The Monks held a 30-22 advantage on the glass and forced 14 USM turnovers. The Huskies rejected six SJC shots and grabbed just four offensive rebounds.
For the Monks, Petzy scored 19 points, O'Brien registered 12 points, six rebounds and six assists, and Savino nearly netted a double-double with 10 points and nine caroms. Kelley added four steal and four boards to his impressive stat line.
The Huskies offense was led by Isaac, who dropped 27 points off an 8-14 effort from the field and an 8-8 mark from the charity stripe. Smith scored all 13 of his points in the first half while Jellison and Bergeron both chipped in with seven points in the loss.
Saint Joseph's will travel to Bangor on Wednesday for a 7:00 PM tip against Husson University. USM will play at Bowdoin on Tuesday at 7:30 PM