Monks Advance to GNAC Semifinals

Monks Advance to GNAC Semifinals

STANDISH, ME – Top-seeded Saint Joseph's (19-7, 15-3 GNAC) defeated #8 Mount Ida College (9-17, 6-12 GNAC), 82-71, in a GNAC Men's Basketball Tournament Quarterfinal at the Harold Alfond Center on Tuesday evening. Junior Zach O'Brien (Schenectady, NY) recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 caroms and added seven assists on the night.

St. Joe's moves on to the semifinal round and will host #4 Norwich University (16-10, 11-7 GNAC) on Thursday evening, tip-off time TBD. The Cadets bested #5 Emerson College, 62-44, in another GNAC quarterfinal played earlier this evening.

The Monks held the lead for nearly the entire game and led by as many as 23 points mid-way through the second half. The Mustangs managed to climb back into the action by way of the three-pointer and trailed by 10 points with 5:36 left, but the Monks were able to hold off the threat with solid defensive play in the closing minutes.

Saint Joseph's shot 57.9% (11-19) from three-point range in the win and registered a scoring 70% (7-10) success rate from downtown in the first half.

For St. Joe's, Chris Petzy '12 (Kensington, NH) netted 20 points and went 10-12 from the free throw line and Tyler Kelley '11 (Saco, ME) made five of eight three-point bids and scored 16 in the win. Anthony Savino '11 (Portland, ME/Cheverus) added 10 points, Julio Vazquez '13 (Waterbury, CT) registered seven points and seven boards, and Nicholas Jobin '14 (Westbrook, ME) chipped in with seven points and four caroms.

For Mount Ida, David Gibbs '12 (East Hartford, CT) scored a game-high 25 points off a 7-12 performance from beyond the arc and added six boards, five assists and three steals to his stat line. Isiah Benjamin '12 (Windsor, CT) went 6-8 from downtown and tallied 18 points, four caroms, four assists and a pair of steals in a losing effort.

Gibbs kicked off the game scoring for the visitors with a three pointer 13 seconds into play, but Saint Joseph's rattled off 10 unanswered points and led 10-3 after Petzy made two free throws at the 15:04 mark.

The conference rivals essentially traded punches over the following seven minutes, but the Monks recorded their first double-digit lead of the night when Vazquez and Kelley knocked down threes on consecutive SJC possessions to make it a 33-22 game with 7:40 left in the first.

Gibbs sparked the Mustangs by scoring eight points during an 11-2 run that saw the visitors cut their deficit to just two points – 35-33 – four minutes later. Fortunately, the Royal Blue poured in 10 unanswered points to close out the half with a 45-33 advantage. O'Brien scored seven points during the SJC surge.

The Monks shot 63% from the field, 70% from downtown, and 66.7% from the charity stripe in the first half. The Mustangs shot 40.7% from the floor, 50% from three-point range, and 100% (3-3) from the FT line over the opening 20 minutes.

Gibbs led all scorers with 13 first-half points while Petzy paced the Monks with 12.

St. Joe's opened the second stanza with six consecutive points to push the SJC lead to 51-33 with 17:18 remaining in the contest. A three-pointer from Kelley at the 10:57 mark extended the Monks' advantage to a game-high 23 points.

Saint Joseph's led 69-47 two minutes later after Savino tapped in a layup, but the Mustangs went on to outscore the Monks by a 13-3 margin and trailed 70-60 with 5:36 remaining. Gibbs was the culprit once again, as the junior guard scored nine points and went 3-3 from downtown during the run.

The Monks proceeded to score six straight points of their own before the Mustangs committed a pair of technical fouls. As a result, Petzy went to the line and made three of four attempts to extend the Monks' lead to 79-60 with 4:19 left.

Mount Ida was able to cut the debt to 11 points – 80-69 – with 1:29 on the clock, but could not muster more than a pair of free throws in the final 89 seconds of play.

Overall, Saint Joseph's shot 51.9% (27-52) from the field, 57.9% (11-19) from downtown, and 63% (17-27) from the FT line. Mount Ida shot 36.5% (23-63) from the floor, 41.2% (14-34) from three-point land, and 73.3% (11-15) from the charity stripe.

With five three-pointers on the night, Kelley moved into second in career trifectas made at Saint Joseph's. The senior sharpshooter has netted 197 three-pointers in 102 games and has made 82 this season, 15 shy of the SJC single-season record held by Stephen Chase '93, who made 97 during the 1992-93 campaign.

Petzy reached the 900-point plateau in the conference quarterfinal win. The junior guard has scored 901 points in 79 career contests.

With the win, St. Joe's improves to 9-0 in the history of the series with Mount Ida College. The Monks, 2009 GNAC Champions, own a 6-2 record in conference tournament tilts in four years as a member of the GNAC.

Postgame interview with Head Coach Rob Sanicola '99:

Playoff interview with Coach Sanicola
Feb 22, 2011