PROVIDENCE, RI – Johnson & Wales University (14-6, 11-2 GNAC) defeated Saint Joseph's (15-7, 12-3 GNAC), 106-90, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference contest at the Harborside Center on Tuesday evening. Junior guard Zach O'Brien (Schenectady, NY) led the Monks with 28 points and added five boards and five assists in the loss.
The Monks held a 49-46 lead going into halftime, but the Wildcats shot a scorching 68% (11-16) from three-point range in the second stanza en route to victory. The success rate from downtown helped JWU outscore St. Joe's by a 60-41 margin in the second period.
St. Joe's held the nation's leading scorer, Lamonte Thomas (Providence, RI), to just four points in the first half, but the junior guard went off in the latter period when he scored 24 points and shot 5-6 from three-point distance. Thomas is currently averaging 29.9 points per game.
For the Monks, Tyler Kelley '11 (Saco, ME) added 15 points and went 4-7 from downtown and Anthony Savino '11 (Portland, ME/Cheverus) tallied 10 points and five caroms. Clark Noonan '14 (Bangor, ME) and Matthew Medeiros '14 (Westport, MA) both netted eight points and Nicholas Jobin '14 (Westbrook, ME) added seven coming off the bench for the Royal Blue.
In all, seven JWU hoopsters scored at least 10 points in the battle for the top spot in the conference. Thomas just missed a triple-double with 13 assists and nine boards to go along with his 28 points and Calvin Jones '12 (Providence, RI) added 17 for the hosts. Darren Faust '11 (Queens, NY), Mike Harris '13 (Providence, RI) and Santino Cinotti '12 (Rochester, NY) each scored 12 points while Louis Ferreras '11 (Providence, RI) and James Folk '12 (Salem, NH) rounded out the top JWU contributors with 11 and 10, respectively.
The Monks held an advantage for the entire first half and led by a team-high eight points, 46-38, when O'Brien scored a layup off a Medeiros dish at the 2:37 mark.
Trailing by three at the break, the Wildcats quickly erased the deficit at the onset of the second half when Thomas five consecutive points to put his team up 53-51 with 18:23 on the clock. The hosts went on to lead by six points, 69-63, when Jones scored a fast-break hoop at the 14:38 mark.
Saint Joseph's went on to regain the lead with a 10-0 run over the following three minutes. Jobin capped the SJC surge with a traditional three-point play that saw the visitors gain a 73-69 cushion with 11:52 remaining.
The Monks maintained an advantage for over four minutes and led 82-79 after O'Brien scored a layup with 8:08 to play. Ferreras countered with a tap-in of his own and Cinotti drilled a three to push the hosts to an 84-82 lead 74 seconds later.
Vazquez converted a three-point play to give his team an 85-84 edge with 6:33 left, but the lead would be the Monks' last as the Wildcats proceeded to outscore the Royal Blue by a 22-5 margin during the remainder of the contest. Johnson & Wales drained five trifectas over the final six minutes, including three off the hands of Cinotti.
Saint Joseph's shot 50% (30-60) from the floor, 38.9% (7-18) from downtown, and 85.2% (23-27) from the FT line. Johnson & Wales shot 55.9% (38-68) overall, 48.1% (13-27) from three-point range, and 94.4% (17-18) from the charity stripe.
The Wildcats held advantages in rebounds (32-31), assists (20-11), points off turnovers (18-6), and points in the paint (32-22) in the GNAC contest.
With the loss, Saint Joseph's falls to 5-3 in the history of the series with JWU. The Monks defeated the Wildcats, 84-80, earlier this season in Standish.
With four three-pointers in the loss, Kelley became just the fifth player in program history to net 60 trifectas in a single season. Kelley, who now has 61 long balls this season, joins Stephen Chase '93, who accomplished the feat three times, Chad Pulkkinen '07, Ryan Martin '00, and Paul Halvorsen '88.
St. Joe's will play host to Lasell College on Saturday at 3:00 PM, while the Wildcats host Suffolk on Thursday at 7:30 PM.