BOSTON, MA – Saint Joseph's (6-4, 3-1 GNAC) topped Emmanuel College (2-7, 1-2 GNAC), 81-67, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference men's basketball contest on Saturday afternoon. Junior guard Zach O'Brien (Schenectady, NY) fell one assist shy of notching the fourth triple-double in Monks Basketball history with 21 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the SJC triumph.
O'Brien led all players in points, boards and dimes and was one of four St. Joe's players to reach double-digits in points. Chris Petzy '12 (Kensington, NH) had 16 points, Tyler Kelley '11 (Saco, ME) made four three-pointers and scored 14, and Matthew Medeiros '14 (Westport, MA) chipped in with 10 points for the Monks.
O'Brien nearly joined Stephen Chase '93, Noah LaRoche '06 and Head Coach Rob Sanicola '99 as players who have recorded a triple-double at Saint Joseph's..
Tyrone Buchanan paced the Saints with 16 points and Isaiah Duke contributed 14 points. Both players grabbed seven boards to help the hosts post a slim 34-33 advantage on the glass and D.J. Fazio added 10 points in the losing effort.
Free-throw shooting was key for the Monks in this victory, as the Royal Blue converted 26 of 31 shots from the charity stripe for an outstanding 83.9% success rate. For St. Joe's, the freebie tally is the most in a game this season and the highest total since the Monks made the same amount against Rivier on February 24th, 2009.
Two players led the Monks' effort from the line as Petzy was 9-9 and O'Brien went 8-8 in the triumph.
Neither team was able to gain a lead of more than four points until Fazio made a three-pointer to propel Emmanuel to a 23-17 advantage with 5:29 to play in the first half. The Monks answered by scoring nine unanswered points as part of a 16-2 run and headed into the locker room with a 33-25 halftime lead.
Three Saint Joseph's players – Terence Cullen '14 (Massapequa, NY), O'Brien and Medeiros – combined to go 7-7 on freebie attempts during the surge leading into intermission.
In the first period, St. Joe's shot 45.8% overall, 37.5% from beyond the arc, and 80% from the FT line. Emmanuel countered by shooting 37.5% from the field, 42.9% from three-point land and 44.4% from the charity stripe over the first 20 minutes.
O'Brien paced all participants with 11 points and eight boards in the first half. Duke and Fazio both dropped six points to lead the hosts.
The Monks managed to push their lead to double-digits for the first time when Petzy made a layup to make it a 41-31 game 2:58 into the second stanza.
St. Joe's maintained the advantage until Emmanuel mounted a scoring surge later in the second half. An O'Brien jumper gave the Monks a seven-point cushion – 56-49 – with 9:43 left, but the Saints posted a 15-5 run over the subsequent 3:34 to take a three-point advantage. Fazio capped the run with a trifecta at the 6:09 mark to lift his team to a 64-61 lead.
Saint Joseph's went right back to work, however, as a Medeiros three-pointer on the next SJC possession sparked a 9-0 run that saw the Monks take a 70-64 advantage with three minutes on the game clock.
As it turned out, St. Joe's would not surrender the lead for the remainder of the game. Emmanuel cut the Monks' lead to three points when Duke converted a traditional three-point play at the 2:47 mark, but Saint Joseph's netted seven unanswered points over the next minute and went 9-11 from the charity stripe in the closing minutes to clinch the victory.
Saint Joseph's shot 51.1% (24-47) from the floor, 43.8% (7-16) from three-point range and 83.9% (26-31) from the FT line, while Emmanuel shot 40.4% (23-57) overall, 45% (9-20) from beyond the arc and 57.1% (12-21) from the charity stripe.
The Saints held a slight 34-33 advantage in rebounds, while the Monks held an 18-12 lead in assists. Both teams committed 14 turnovers.
With the win, Saint Joseph's has defeated Emmanuel in seven consecutive meetings and improves to 7-1 in the history of the series against the Saints.
Both teams will host GNAC opponents on Tuesday, as St. Joe's will play Norwich at 7:00 PM and Emmanuel faces Suffolk at 5:30 PM.