BANGOR, ME – Husson University (3-1) outlasted Saint Joseph's College, 81-78, in a non-conference men's basketball contest on Wednesday evening. Zach O'Brien '12 (Schenectady, NY) led the Monks with 20 points in the hard-fought loss.
Husson forward Josh Jones '11 (Jefferson, ME) scored a game-high 25 points, thanks in part to a 4-6 performance from three-point distance, and also led all players with 12 boards in the victory.
The largest advantage attained by either team was seven points in a game that featured a whopping 17 lead changes and was tied on 13 occasions. A seven-point Husson lead was wiped away by the Monks mid-way through the first half and the Royal Blue nearly overcame the same deficit late in the second stanza. Trailing by three with 15 seconds left in the game a three-point bid by Tyler Kelley '11 (Saco, ME) rattled the rim and the carom was collected by the Eagles, who held on to earn the slim triumph.
The in-state rivals traded blows throughout the anticipated contest including the early going when a pair of youngsters helped push the Monks to a five-point lead. Husson held a 9-5 lead after Jay Uhrin '11 (Winterport, ME) connected for two at the 14:58 mark. Saint Joseph's proceeded to score nine unanswered points, including five by freshman guard Matthew Medeiros (Westport, MA), and led 14-9 after James Philbrook '14 (Auburn, ME) nailed a jumper with 12:59 left in the first.
Unfortunately, the Monks would go on to score just one point, off a Philbrook freebie, over the next five minutes. The Eagles rattled off 13 points during the same span and had raced out to a 22-15 cushion after Tim Hughes '13 (Brewer, ME) made two free throws at the 7:59 mark.
St. Joe's, accustomed to playing in tight games after notching narrow victories over Farmington and USM already this year, fought back with seven straight points, including five off the hands of sharpshooter Chris Petzy '12 (Kensington, NH), to knot the game at 22-all with 6:52 to go in the first.
Uhrin and O'Brien traded trifectas on their teams' following possessions as the game remained tied at 25-apiece. The tradeoff of treys was a precursor of things to come, as the former conference rivals toed off for the next 20 minutes of game-pay, a span during which neither team would mount a lead of more than four points.
With the help of some good free throw shooting in the closing minutes of the opening half and a Jones three-pointer with 1:03 before the break, Husson carried a 34-32 into intermission.
St. Joe's shot 36.7% (11-30) from the field, 45.5% (5-11) from beyond the arc and 71.4% (5-7) from the FT line in the first half. Husson shot 38.7% (12-31) overall, 50% (4-8) from three-point range and was a perfect 6-6 from the charity stripe in the first 20 minutes of play. The Eagles out-rebounded the Monks by a 23-17 margin in the first half.
Jones led all first-half scorers with 11 points and Petzy paced the Monks with 10.
Since neither team shot the lights out in the first stanza, the second half must have seemed like a shooting clinic to onlookers. The teams combined to shoot 54% from the floor, 56% from three-point distance, and 80% from the line in the second stanza.
The latter half began with SJC sophomore point guard Julio Vazquez (Waterbury, CT) draining a three-pointer to put the Monks on top, 35-34. St. Joe's maintained a lead for the better part of the opening 10 minutes following halftime and led by five, 56-51, when O'Brien ignored a hand in his face and drained a three with 11:16 remaining.
The cushion would not last, however, as Husson scored nine unanswered points over the next two minutes to secure a four-point advantage. Eric Modica '13 (Kittery, ME) started the surge when h popped a three with 10:29 left and Wes Murphy '13 (Norwich, CT) hit a trifecta at the 9:16 mark to propel the Eagles to a 60-56 advantage.
Saint Joseph's tied the game with the help of two Tom Ray '12 (Cape Elizabeth, ME) free throws and a bucket from Petzy, which was set up by a Vazquez steal, but the Eagles made four consecutive shots while holding the Monks scoreless and led by seven, 69-62, after Luis Medina '14 (Hartford, CT) knocked down a longball with 6:30 remaining.
An O'Brien jumpshot tied the game at 73-all three minutes later and an Anthony Savino '11 (Portland, ME/Cheverus) hoop with 2:43 left preserved the deadlock. The Eagles mustered a 5-0 burst, including three from Jones, over the next 90 seconds to take an 80-75 lead with 40 ticks on the clock. Kelley hit a three-pointer with 23 seconds remaining to cut the Monks' deficit to two points before Modica made one of two FT attempts to make it a three-point game. A last-ditch longball attempt by Kelley was off target and Uhrin corralled the defensive board to seal the Husson win.
The team shooting efforts were eerily similar: St. Joe's shot 45% (27-60) overall, 47.6% (10-21) from three-point range and 82.4% (14-17) from the line, while Husson posted efforts of 46.7% (28-60), 57.1% (8-14) and 81% (17-21). The Eagles outworked the Monks on the glass by a 40-31 margin and scored 21 points off turnovers. The SJC bench produced 11 points in the first half, but managed just six points in the second stanza.
Including leading-scorer O'Brien, the Monks featured four double-digit scorers, as Petzy netted 15 points with five boards, Kelley added 12 points and Savino notched 10 in the loss. Medeiros contributed eight points for the Royal Blue.
For Husson, 6'10" center Marc Zaharchuk '13 (Richmond, ME) tallied 20 points and seven rebounds while making all eight of his FT attempts and Uhrin added 11 points.
With the loss, the Monks fall to 35-44 (.443) in the history of the series with the Eagles.
Saint Joseph's will host Emerson College in the Monks' 2010-11 GNAC opener on Saturday at noon, while Husson will play Maine-Machias on Saturday at 7:30 PM in the team's two-day Paul Bunyan Tournament.