STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's (16-7, 12-3 GNAC) halted a two-game conference skid with a 96-92 overtime victory over Lasell College (5-17, 4-11 GNAC) at the Alfond Center on Saturday afternoon. Tyler Kelley '11 (Saco, ME) and Zach O'Brien '12 (Schenectady, NY) combined to score 58 points in the GNAC victory.
The Monks trailed, 44-31, at the break, but opened the second stanza on a 10-run and gained their first lead since the beginning of the game when Kelley stroked a three at the 15:40 mark. St. Joe's went on to hold at least a share of the lead for the remainder of the half but Lasell sophomore guard Sean Bertanza (Seymour, CT) hit a three-pointer in traffic with four seconds left to force extra play.
The Lasers netted four quick points to kick off the overtime frame, but the Monks responded with eight unanswered points and led 86-82 after Clark Noonan '14 (Bangor, ME) converted a three-point play with 2:02 remaining. After yet another Bertanza hoop, O'Brien made buckets on consecutive trips down the floor and Kelley made all six of his free throw attempts in the closing 22 seconds to seal the Saint Joseph's triumph.
The combined offensive performance by Kelley and O'Brien was the most points scored by an SJC duo this season, but their individual performances were overshadowed by Bertanza, who was virtually unstoppable for the visitors and scored 55 points in a losing effort. The second-year guard went 22-32 from the floor, 5-7 from three-point distance and 6-7 from the free throw line for the Lasers.
For the Monks, Noonan added 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists and Chris Petzy' 12 (Kensington, NH) chipped in with 12 points and four boards. Anthony Savino '11 (Portland, ME/Cheverus) registered seven points and four assists and Julio Vazquez '13 (Waterbury, CT) tallied six assists, five points and four steals.
Prior to the start of the contest, Saint Joseph's held a ceremony to honor Kelley and Savino – the program's two seniors. Both were members of the 2008-09 GNAC Championship team and the duo has helped lead the Monks to a 70-33 (.680) record while donning the Royal Blue.
For the Lasers, Richie King '12 (Carver, MA) notched 12 points and four assists and Javon Williams '12 (Mattapan, MA) contributed 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in the setback. The Monks held Williams, who entered the game as the Lasers' leading scorer at 23.4 PPG, to just six shot attempts.
A poor start nearly derailed the Monks' chances of a victory, as the Royal Blue shot just 37.9% from the field with two three-point field goals in the opening 20 minutes. As a result, the Monks trailed for almost the entire first half and went into intermission trailing by 13 points.
Bertanza scored 26 of his 55 points in the first period, while Petzy netted eight points to lead the Monks' list of first-half contributors.
Saint Joseph's shot 37.9% overall, 33.3% from downtown, and 70% from the FT line, while Lasell shot 58.6% from the floor, 30% from three-point range, and 100% (7-7) from the charity stripe in the first half.
The halftime adjustments doled out by the St. Joe's coaching staff paid immediate dividends for the hosts, who opened the second stanza on a 10-0 outbreak to cut their debt to three points – 44-41 – with 19:12 on the game clock. Noonan scored five points during the SJC surge.
The Monks gained their first lead, 50-48, of the half when Kelley drained a three pointer at the 15:40 mark.
The tussle was tied on three occasions over the final 15 minutes and Saint Joseph's went on to gain a team-high seven-point lead after a 10-4 run late in the second half. Kelley made a pair of threes and O'Brien scored two layups during the drive, which ended with the Monks up 75-68 with 3:32 remaining in regulation.
But St. Joe's would net just three points in the closing minutes, a span in which the Lasers countered with 10 to knot the game after 40 minutes of play. Bertanza scored eight points in the closing minutes, including a difficult three-point conversion with four seconds on the clock.
After the in-bounds play, O'Brien was able to let fly a 40-foot shot from the left side, but his buzzer-beater attempt skimmed the front of the rim and the game was heading to an extra frame.
Bertanza did not tire down the stretch, at least not statistically, and proceeded to score nine of his team's 14 overtime points. Fortunately, Kelley came up clutch for the Royal Blue with six freebies in as many attempts in the final seconds to cement the conquest.
Saint Joseph's rebounded from a subpar shooting effort in the first half and posted a 65.5% mark in the second period. Overall, the Monks shot 53% (35-66) from the field, 53.8% (7-13) from beyond the arc, and 76% (19-25) from the FT line. Lasell shot 59.7% (37-62) from the floor, 41.2% (7-17) from three-point distance, and 78.6% (11-14) from the charity stripe.
St. Joe's held a 31-27 advantage on the glass and forced 20 Lasell turnovers with eight steals on the afternoon. The Monks also led in points in the paint (46-34) and bench points (14-9).
With the win, Saint Joseph's improves to 5-6 in the history of the series with Lasell College. The Monks have defeated the Lasers in both meetings this season.
The overtime contest is the second this season for St. Joe's, who notched a double-OT triumph over Johnson & Wales earlier this year. The Monks have not participated in two OT contests in a season since the 2007-08 campaign.
Bertanza's mind-boggling point total ranks as the second-most scored by a Monks' opposing player in the history of SJC basketball and is the most-ever scored in the Harold Alfond Center, which opened in the fall of 2000. The previous high at the Alfond was held by Southern Maine's Corteze Isaac, who netted 35 in a losing effort for the Huskies on November 29th, 2009.
Bertanza, who played all but one minute during the overtime tilt, also shattered Lasell's single-game scoring and field-goals-made records in the setback. Bertanza began the game averaging 17.2 PPG and had tallied 55 total points in the last three games combined and the most points he had scored in a game entering today's contest was 30 in a loss to Johnson & Wales last Saturday.
The record for most points scored in an NCAA DIII contest is held by Jeff Clement, who scored 77 for Grinnell against Illinois College on February 18th, 1998. The record for most field goals made in a game is 29, a total shared by two players.
Saint Joseph's will play at Rivier College on Tuesday at 7:00 PM, while Lasell is set to host Mount Ida College on Tuesday in an 8:00 PM conference tilt.
Postgame interview with Assistant Coach Scot Vachon '09: