NEW HAVEN, CT – Tyler Kelley '11 (Saco, ME) drained went 7-7 from downtown and netted a career-high 32 points to lift Saint Joseph's (9-4, 6-1 GNAC) past reigning Great Northeast Athletic Conference Champion Albertus Magnus College (7-6, 5-2 GNAC), 86-83, on Monday afternoon.
With the victory, the Monks take sole possession of the top spot in the conference with 11 league games remaining. After collecting the conference crown last winter, the Falcons went on to defeat William Paterson – ranked seventh in the country at the time - in the NCAA DIII Tournament.
Overall, Kelley made 12 of 14 attempts from the field and added a game-high three steals in the conference conquest. He scored 24 second-half points, including a clutch three-point play after grabbing a loose ball in the final 30 seconds.
Historically speaking, Kelley's scoring output ranks as the most points scored by an SJC player since Elbie Murphy '09 dropped 34 against Lincoln University on February 24th, 2007. His three-point effort places him in a tie for second on the list of most threes made in a game with Chad Pulkkinen '07, who drained seven against Briarcliffe College on January 5th, 2007.
Saint Joseph's shot 63.6% (14-22) from beyond the arc as a team in the victory, the highest conversion rate since the Monks went a perfect 10-10 from three-point range against Thomas College on January 19th, 2000.
Zach O'Brien '12 (Schenectady, NY) continues to play well and added 21 points, four rebounds and three assists in the triumph, while Chris Petzy '12 (Kensington, NH) added 17 – including a pair of late freebies - and Matthew Medeiros '14 (Westport, MA) went 3-3 from three-point distance to account for nine points.
Sophomore point guard Julio Vazquez (Waterbury, CT) added eight boards, six assists and two steals and Clark Noonan '14 (Bangor, ME) grabbed five caroms in the SJC victory.
For the Falcons, Ray Askew '12 (New Haven, CT) registered a double-double with 29 points and 14 rebounds and Darius Watson '14 (New Britain, CT) added 20 points in the losing effort. Zach Dugas '13 (Monroe, CT) netted 12 points and Jefferson Lora '13 (Bronx, NY) grabbed 12 caroms and contributed eight points.
The GNAC heavyweight battle featured 14 lead changes and was tied on five occasions.
With the help of five points in 17 seconds from O'Brien, the Monks held a 12-6 lead 5:39 into the contest, but Albertus responded with seven unanswered points over the following 90 seconds to take a one-point advantage.
Saint Joseph's led by five, 24-19, after James Philbrook '14 (Auburn, ME) converted a traditional three-point play with 9:45 remaining in the first half. The Monks held on to at least a share of the lead until Askew and Lora slammed home dunks on consecutive AMC possessions to put the hosts on top, 28-27, with 5:39 on the first-half clock.
The Monks secured a one-point lead on their next trip down the floor, as O'Brien scored in the paint off a Vazquez dish at the 4:49 mark, but the Falcons netted 10 unanswered points and led by a game-high nine points – 38-29 – after Watson drained a three at the 1:48 mark. Askew accounted for five of his team's points during the AMC surge.
St. Joe's chipped away at the debt with three-pointers from Petzy and Kelley while holding the hosts scoreless for the remainder half to go into the intermission trailing by three, 38-35.
In the first half, the Monks shot 42.4% from the field and 60% from three-point range while the Falcons shot 44.1% from the floor and 30.8% from downtown. St. Joe's converted its only FT attempt and Albertus went 8-16 from the charity stripe in the opening 20 minutes.
O'Brien led all scorers with 15 first-half points while Askew paced the Falcons with 14 points.
The Monks began the second stanza with an 8-4 run and held a 43-42 lead after O'Brien capped the surge with a layup at the 17:55 mark. St. Joe's proceeded to hold an advantage for the majority of the latter half and gained their largest lead – 66-58 - when Kelley nailed a trey with 10:27 left in the contest.
The hosts challenged often, but were unable to secure a lead until the Falcons' press yielded a 6-0 run that was capped by a Watson jumper and put AMC up 83-80 with 1:32 on the clock.
A minute later, Kelley scored three points the hard way to lift St. Joe's to a slim 84-83 lead. The senior guard forced an Albertus turnover, was fouled on a converted layup attempt and made the free throw to put his team up by one with 22.7 seconds left.
With 15 seconds remaining, Watson had an opportunity to knot the game with an open look from three-point distance, but his shot missed the mark. The Falcons, forced to foul, tagged Petzy, who converted both freebies to lift the Monks to an 86-83 cushion with 15 seconds to go.
The SJC victory was confirmed when Watson missed a three-point attempt as time expired.
Saint Joseph's shot 48.5% (32-66) from the floor, 63.6% (14-22) from three-point distance and 88.9% *8-9) from the charity stripe, while Albertus Magnus shot 45.3% (29-64) overall, 23.8% (5-21) from downtown and 80% (20-25) from the FT line.
The Falcons held a commanding 42-29 lead in rebounding and a 40-14 advantage in bench points in the losing effort.
The Monks improve to 6-2 all-time against the Falcons with the win. Albertus defeated St. Joe's twice last season, including a 12-point win at the Alfond Center on January 18th. These two teams meet again in just 12 days, as AMC comes to Standish for a 3:00 PM tip on Saturday, January 29th.
Also of note, O'Brien surpassed the 800-point plateau and Petzy reached the 700-point mark in the victory.
Saint Joseph's will host Bates College in a non-conference contest on Wednesday night at 7:30 PM, while Albertus will take on Trinity College at home on Thursday at 7:00 PM.