NEWTON, MA – After a back-and-forth first half, Saint Joseph's (8-4, 5-1 GNAC) pulled out a 76-70 victory over Lasell College (3-9, 2-4 GNAC) in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference men's basketball contest Saturday afternoon at the Lasell Athletic Center.
Four starters recorded double-figures in scoring for the Monks, including a game-high 25 point performance by junior guard Zach O'Brien (Schenectady, NY) who connected on 10-of-18 field goals and 5-of-5 free throws. O'Brien also came away with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. Classmate Chris Petzy (Kensington, NH) followed behind with 16 points for Saint Joseph's while sophomore guard Julio Vazquez (Waterbury, CT) netted a career-high 13 points. Senior guard Tyler Kelley (Saco, ME) rounded out the Monks' top scorers 11 points.
Lasell countered with a quartet of players scoring double-digits as well. Junior forward Javon Williams (Mattapan, MA) lodged 17 points for a team-best, shooting 8-of-12 from the field and senior forward Derrick Harper (Boston, MA) registered the only double-double of the game with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Harper led all players at halftime with 10 points. Junior guard Richie King (Carver, MA) produced 12 points for the Lasers and sophomore guard Jordan Fuller (Oviedo, FL) dropped in 11 points and dished out a game and career-high seven assists.
Harper put Lasell on the board first with a baseline jumper at 19:15. The score oscillated between a Lasell two-point advantage and a tie-game four times before Saint Joseph's pulled ahead for the first time at 13:40 on one-of-two free throws by Petzy. The Lasers regained their footing on an elbow jumper by Williams at 10:30, holding onto the advantage to take their biggest lead of the period at 5:59 on a three-pointer by Brett Heimann (Miami, FL) at the crown of the arc.
Kelley responded with a trey of his own, while a couple of freebies by Petzy knotted the score at 25-all at 4:57. A second three by Heimann gave Lasell their last advantage in the frame due to a 10-0 run by the Monks putting Lasell behind seven with 42 ticks on the clock. A Harper bucket, followed by a Fuller steal converted to a fast break layup ended the period at 35-32 in favor of the visitors.
After a scoreless two minutes on both ends of the court to start the second half, Williams reduced the Lasers debt to just one. Uninterrupted layups by O'Brien and a three by Kelley brought the Monks ahead by six at the 15 minute mark, 44-38. By 11:16 Saint Joseph's had a double-figure lead, 52-42.
Between the 11th and the 7th minute the Lasers faced a scoring drought which brought the score to 60-43 capped by a one-handed dunk by Monks forward Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, ME) in transition. The Lasers chipped away at the Monks' advantage over a minute and a half span to bring the score to 62-51 with 4:54 left to play.
A distance three by Lasell's freshman guard Aaron Jogada (Atlanta, GA) moments after entering the game gave the Lasers a needed spark leading into a 10-2 run bringing the score within six, with 1:23 to go. Lasell closed within five points with 16 seconds on the clock as Fuller pulled up for a three on the wing, but a final foul shot by Petzy concluded the GNAC contest.
O'Brien and Williams traded 15 points each for their respective teams in the second period alone. Saint Joseph's shot 62% from the field in the second stanza, connecting on 13-of-21 attempts, while Lasell produced on 50% of their efforts. Throughout the contest, Saint Joseph's edged Lasell 56%-50% in shooting percentage and 34-25 on the glass.
Kelley reached a pair of statistical landmarks in the triumph. His three-pointer at the 15:44 mark of the second stanza was the 150th of his career and he also crossed the 900-point plateau with 11 points on the afternoon.
With the win, the Monks improved to 4-6 all-time in the history of the series with the Lasers. Lasell defeated Saint Joseph's twice last winter, including a 75-70 victory at the Harold Alfond Center in the opening round of the 2010 GNAC Tournament.
St. Joe's will play at Albertus Magnus College in a battle of the top two teams in the GNAC on Monday at 3:00 PM, while Lasell will travel to Emmanuel on Tuesday for a 7:00 PM conference contest.