NEWTON, MA – Tyler Kelley '11 (Saco, ME) dropped a game-high 26 points and shot 7-12 from downtown to help Saint Joseph's (18-7, 15-3 GNAC) defeat Mount Ida College (9-16, 6-12 GNAC), 80-74, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference Men's Basketball contest on Saturday afternoon. The game was the regular-season finale for both teams.
With the win the Monks have claimed the top seed in the GNAC Tournament for the first time in four seasons as a member of the conference. St. Joe's will host Mount Ida, the #8 seed, in the first round of the tourney on Tuesday. Tip-off time for the tourney tilt will be announced soon.
Today's game was as tightly contested as the score might indicate, as the teams swapped leads nine times and the score stood at a deadlock on 10 occasions. The final stalemate occurred late in the second stanza when the Mustangs erased a six-point deficit and knotted the game at 70-apiece with an even two minutes remaining. The Monks responded with a 7-0 run over the next 90 seconds which all but sealed the victory for the visitors.
St. Joe's shot a scorching 70.4% from the floor, including a 6-8 effort from three-point range, in the second period after recording a sub-par 30.9% effort during the first 20 minutes of play.
For the Monks, Chris Petzy '12 (Kensington, NH) netted 15, Zach O'Brien '12 (Schenectady, NY) tallied 14 points, eight assists and five rebounds, and Clark Noonan '14 (Bangor, ME) chipped in with 11 points and five caroms. Anthony Savino '11 (Portland, ME/Cheverus) added seven points and four boards in what was the final regular-season collegiate contest of his career.
Isiah Benjamin paced the Mustangs with 23 points and matched Kelley's 7-12 effort from beyond the arc while Travis Hillery notched a double-double with 18 points and 10 boards in a losing bid. David Gibbs also reached double-double status with 12 points and 11 assists on the afternoon.
With seven trifectas against the Mustangs, Kelley is now tied with Chad Pulkkinen '07 for second in career three-pointers made at Saint Joseph's. Kelley has drained 192 threes in 101 career contests and 77 in 25 games this season, a trey total that ranks fifth in the SJC single-season annals.
Saint Joseph's held an advantage for the majority of the first half, but Mount Ida posted a 10-2 run over the three minutes leading up to intermission and carried a 33-29 lead into locker room.
Benjamin led all first-half scorers with 12 points, while Petzy paced the Royal Blue with 11 in the first 20 minutes of play.
In the first half, Saint Joseph's shot 37.9% from the floor, 28.6% from beyond the arc, and 50% from the FT line. Mount Ida shot 52% overall, 50% from three-point range and went 0-1 from the stripe in the opening period.
The Monks used threes from Kelley and Julio Vazquez '13 (Waterbury, CT) to tie the game at 35-apiece in the first minute of the second stanza. The Mustangs answered with a 9-2 surge and held a game-high seven-point cushion – 44-37 – when Benjamin tapped in a layup with 17:04 on the clock.
St. Joe's outscored the hosts by a 14-7 margin over the subsequent five minutes. Kelley's sixth three-pointer of the game capped the run with the game tied, 51-51, and 12:02 remaining.
Gibbs connected on a pair of threes on the Mustangs' next two trips down the floor to offset an O'Brien fastbreak layup as the hosts held a 57-53 cushion at the 10:57 mark. The Monks whittled away the two-bucket deficit as O'Brien and Savino scored layups and Savino, who was fouled on his move to the hoop, made a freebie to lift the Royal Blue to a 58-57 edge with 9:44 left.
The Monks went on to increase their lead to six points - 66-60 - when Petzy scored a layup at the 7:20 mark, but The Mustangs managed to knot the game yet again with a 10-4 scoring burst, an outbreak capped by a Hillery hoop at the 3:14 mark.
Savino and Hillery proceeded to swap buckets and the game stood at a 70-70 stalemate with two minutes left. O'Brien and Kelley accounted for the game's next seven points to help lift the Royal Blue to the regular-season-ending triumph.
Saint Joseph's shot 53.6% (30-56) from the floor, 45.5% (10-22) from three-point land, and 71.4% (10-14) from the charity stripe in the victory. Mount Ida shot 49.2% (29-59) from the field, 41.4% (12-29) from beyond the arc, and 57.1% (4-7) from the FT line.
The Monks held a 33-28 advantage on the glass and a 38-30 lead in points in the paint.
With the win, St. Joe's improves to 8-0 in the history of the series with Mount Ida College.