BOSTON, MA – Saint Joseph's College (12-5, 9-1 GNAC) topped Emerson College (7-9, 4-5 GNAC), 58-53, in Great Northeast Athletic Conference Men's Basketball action on Thursday evening. Tyler Kelley '11 (Saco, ME) tallied 13 points and nine rebounds, both game-highs, in the SJC win.
St. Joe's held at least a share of the lead for the duration of the conference contest but never enjoyed a cushion of more than nine points on the night. An 18-9 surge late in the first half helped the Monks take a 28-21 advantage into intermission and eventually proved to be the difference.
The Lions managed to cut their deficit to three points or less on a handful of occasions in the second stanza, but the Monks held off the hosts and headed back to Maine with an important GNAC victory in tow.
Matthew Medeiros '14 (Westport, MA) added 11 points and has now scored at least nine points in five straight games coming off the bench for St. Joe's. Zach O'Brien '12 (Schenectady, NY) registered 11 points, four boards, three assists and two steals, Chris Petzy '12 (Kensington, NH) put up nine points, and Julio Vazquez '13 (Waterbury, CT) chipped in with seven points for the Monks.
Nathan Firn and Alex Dempsey both scored 10 points and Tom Messinger added eight points for Emerson, which shot just 13.3% (4-30) from beyond on the arc in the loss.
The game stood at a 10-10 stalemate after Dempsey hit a jumper for the Lions at the 9:32 mark of the opening half, but Saint Joseph's proceeded to outscore Emerson by a 18-9 margin over the following six minutes and held a 28-19 lead after Medeiros dropped a three-pointer with 3:00 remaining in the opening period. Medeiros and Kelley combined to net 11 points during the outbreak.
In the first half, the Monks shot 50% from the floor, 25% from three-point distance, and went 0-3 from the stripe. The Lions shot 33.3% from the field, 7.7% from downtown, and 57.1% from the charity stripe over the opening 20 minutes.
Kelley scored 10 points in the first half to lead all scorers, while Firn and Dempsey both netted four points to pace the hosts.
St. Joe's maintained the seven-point lead – 32-25 - with a Vazquez bucket at the 17:44 mark, but Emerson made it a one-point game with six unanswered points over the next four minutes. The Monks committed four turnovers during the hosts' burst.
O'Brien singlehandedly provided the Monks with some breathing room when he scored five straight points to lift the Royal Blue to a 37-31 cushion with 12:34 remaining.
The Lions made it a one-possession game on several occasions over the remainder of the contest, but the Monks managed to come up with a big play each time to hold off the hosts. The Monks' free-throw effort during the closing minutes was less than perfect, but Vazquez hit a couple of clutch freebies in the closing seconds to clinch the win.
Overall, Saint Joseph's shot 47.8% (22-46) from the field, 37.5% (6-16) from downtown, and 50% (8-16) from the charity stripe. Emerson shot 36.5% (19-52) from the floor, 13.3% (4-30) from beyond the arc, and 64.7% (11-17) from the FT line.
The Lions held a slim 33-30 advantage on the glass and registered 16 assists on 19 field goals on the night.
With the triumph, Saint Joseph's improves to 3-4 in the history of the series with Emerson College. The Monks have now defeated the Lions in three consecutive meetings.
Both teams will host conference opponents on Saturday. The Monks will take on 2010 GNAC Champion Albertus Magnus College on Saturday at 3:00 PM, while the Lions face Johnson & Wales at 3:00 PM.