Monks Triumphant in GNAC Opener

Monks Triumphant in GNAC Opener

STANDISH, ME – Chris Petzy '12 (Kensington, NH) and Tyler Kelley '11 (Saco, ME) combined to score 39 points to help Saint Joseph's (4-1, 1-0 GNAC) defeat Emerson College (3-3, 0-1 GNAC), 79-74, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference Men's Basketball game at the Alfond Center on Saturday afternoon.

St. Joe's held a 10-point advantage with 2:51 left in the game, but the Lions cut the Monks' lead to just four points and trailed 73-69 with 33 seconds remaining. Saint Joseph's sank 11 of 12 free-throw attempts in the final two minutes to resist the visitor's comeback bid.

Petzy, who scored a game-high 20 points, went 6-6 from the line in the closing minutes and was 10-12 from the charity stripe overall in the victory. Kelley netted 19 and was 3-5 from beyond the arc for the Monks, Zach O'Brien '12 (Schenectady, NY) netted 11 and Nicholas Jobin '14 (Westbrook, ME) broke out with a 10-point, five-rebound effort in the triumph.

Carlos Negrete '12 (Orange County, CA) led the Lions with 18 points and drained five of nine from three-point range, while teammate Tom Messinger '11 (Florence, MA) went 5-10 from downtown and tallied 17 points. Overall, four Emerson players combined to make 14 trifectas in a losing effort.

The Monks held at least a share of the lead for the first 10 minutes of play, as Emerson didn't attain its first advantage of the afternoon until Negrete made a three-pointer at the 10:09 mark to cap a 7-0 run for the Lions.  The conference rivals proceeded to swap leads four times and the contest was tied on four occasions over the final 10 minutes of the first half, which ended in a 34-34 deadlock.

St. Joe's shot 46.2% (12-26) from the field, 50% (5-10) from three-point range and 45.5% (5-11) from the FT line in the first half. Emerson countered by shooting 56.5% (13-23) overall, 46.7% (7-15) from beyond the arc and 50% (1-2) from the charity stripe.

The Monks out-rebounded the Lions, 15-13, and held an 8-3 advantage in second-chance points during the first 20 minutes. St. Joe's also had 11 assists on 12 field goals in the opening stanza.

Messinger went 4-6 from three-point range to account for his game-high 12 points at the half, while Kelley paced the Royal Blue with 10 points before intermission.

The Lions opened the second half with five unanswered points, as a Messinger bucket and a three-pointer from Alex Dempsey '12 (Anchorage, AK) propelled the visitors to their largest lead of the day – 39-34 – with 19:08 to go.

Seven consecutive SJC points followed and the Royal Blue was back in front, 41-39, after a pair of Kelley baskets and a three from Petzy with 17:19 on the clock. The Lions continued the back-and-forth theme with an 8-1 run, which featured five points from Negrete, over the next three minutes to secure a 47-42 advantage.

Trailing 49-44 after Nathan Firn '12 (Wadesboro, NC) made a freebie at the 13:01 mark, the Monks were able to secure the lead for good with the help of five points from point guard Julio Vazquez '13 (Waterbury, CT) during a 12-6 outburst. Vazquez nailed a three with 10:34 remaining to lift the Monks to their first lead in nearly seven minutes and a Kelley trey with 8:20 to play put the hosts up by five, 56-51.

Jobin's coming-out party was on display over the following four minutes, a span during which the bruising 6'6" forward scored eight of the Monks' 10 points to help St. Joe's post its largest lead of the day – 66-56 – with 4:12 left.

Kelley hit a jumper with 2:51 remaining to maintain the 10-point cushion, but the Lions would not allow the Royal Blue Faithful to rest easy as time expired. Emerson made six of nine shots, including a trio of trifectas, and outscored the Monks by a 16-11 margin in the closing minutes. Saint Joseph's went on to earn the victory with an outstanding effort from the free throw line.

The Monks shot 52.2% (24-46) from the floor, 53.3% (8-15) from three-point distance and 71.9% (23-32) from the charity stripe in the victory. Emerson shot 48.1% (26-54) from the field, 46.7% (14-30) from beyond the arc and 50% (8-16) from the FT line in a losing effort.

St. Joe's shot 60% (12-20) overall and 85.7% (18-21) from the charity stripe in the second half. The free-throw total is the most since the Monks made 26 against Rivier College on February 24th, 2009.

The Monks also outworked the Lions on the glass, 35-22, and recorded 19 assists on 24 field goals en route to the GNAC victory.

For the Monks, Petzy grabbed a game-high six caroms with five assists and Kelley went 7-10 from the floor. Vazquez added nine points and four caroms and Tom Ray '12 (Cape Elizabeth, ME) netted four points in the victory.

Clark Noonan '14 (Bangor, ME) scored the first points of his collegiate career with a bucket at the 7:44 mark of the first half and added two rebounds in three minutes of play.

Firn scored 14 points, Dempsey added 11 points and Kabir Moss '11 (Chico, CA) contributed nine points and five boards for Emerson. Drew Ventner '12 (Boston, MA) dealt a game-high eight dimes and chipped in with five points in the setback.

With three treys in the win, Kelley now has 131 in his career and is tied for fourth in three-pointers made in program history with SJC Hall of Famer and all-time leading scorer Carl Howell '99.

Saint Joseph's improves to 3-4 against Emerson in the history of the series. The Monks have now taken three straight from the Lions dating back to December 5th, 2009.

Both teams will host GNAC counterparts in the coming days, as St. Joe's takes on Johnson & Wales University on Wednesday at 7:30 PM, while Emerson is set to play Mount Ida on Tuesday at 7:30 PM.