Monks & Wildcats Set to Clash in 2011 GNAC Championship
Feb 25, 2011
STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's College (20-7, 15-3 GNAC) will host Johnson & Wales University (19-8, 14-4 GNAC) in the 2011 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Championship on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 PM.
St. Joe's, the top seed in this year's tourney, advanced to the final with a quarterfinal win over #8 Mount Ida College Tuesday night and a semifinal triumph over #4 Norwich University on Thursday evening.
#2 Johnson & Wales topped #7 Suffolk in the quarterfinals and defeated #3 Albertus Magnus, the reigning GNAC champs, in the semifinal round on Thursday.
Saint Joseph's has advanced to the GNAC Tournament four times in as many years as a league member and captured the GNAC Championship as the #3 seed in 2009.
Saint Joseph's enters the title game 20-7 overall and wrapped up the GNAC docket with a 15-3 mark under the guidance of eighth-year Head Coach Rob Sanicola '99 (139-79, .638), the 2011 GNAC Coach of the Year. The 20-win season is the 17th in program history and the third of Coach Sanicola's career.
The Monks defeated #8 Mount Ida College, 82-71, in the conference quarterfinals on Tuesday and handled #4 Norwich University, 72-56, in a semifinal matchup at the Alfond on Thursday night.
Junior guard Zach O'Brien (Schenectady, NY), a 2011 First Team All-GNAC selection, leads the Royal Blue in scoring (17.1 PPG), rebounding (4.6 RPG), assists (4.4 APG), and field goal percentage (48.9%, 179-366) through 27 tilts. His current point total (445) is the most in a season by an SJC player since Chad Pulkkinen '07 recorded 505 points in 30 games during the 2006-07 campaign.
Senior guard Tyler Kelley (Saco, ME), a two-time Second Team All-GNAC choice, averages 15.0 PPG and is the team-leader in three-pointers made (83). The Monks' all-time leader in three-point percentage (44.1%, 198-449), Kelley ranked 14th in the country in three-point field goal percentage and 21st in three pointers mad per game (3.1) as of February 21st.
Chris Petzy '12 (Kensington, NH) is second on the team with a 15.4 PPG average and leads the Monks in three-point efficiency (45.7%, 63-138) and free throw percentage (82.5%, 94-114) this season.
Kelley and Petzy are the only duo in program history to have made at least 60 three pointers apiece in the same season.
Saint Joseph's enters the GNAC Championship just four three pointers shy of breaking the team's single-season mark. The 1998-99 team made 238 trifectas in 29 games while this year's squad has drained 234 treys in 27 tilts. As of Monday, the Monks ranked second in all of NCAA Basketball – all levels – in three-point percentage.
Petzy paced the Royal Blue with 21 points and went 6-8 from downtown in the semifinal win over Norwich on Thursday. O'Brien added 16 points and Julio Vazquez '13 (Waterbury, CT) was 3-4 from beyond the arc and chipped in with 11 points. Clark Noonan '14 (Bangor, ME) contributed 10 caroms and eight points in the tournament win.
Currently, Saint Joseph's is shooting 46% from the floor, 43.4% from three-point range, and 71.2% from the free throw line. The Monks are averaging 74.6 points, 34.4 rebounds and 15.0 assists per contest.
Sixth-year Head Coach Jamie Benton (94-92, .505) has led the Wildcats to a 19-8 overall record and a 14-4 mark in GNAC play this season.
Johnson & Wales defeated #7 Suffolk, 96-63, in the quarterfinals Tuesday and bested #3 Albertus Magnus, the reigning GNAC Champions, 128-107, in the semifinals on Thursday night.
Junior guard Lamonte Thomas (Providence, RI), the 2011 GNAC Player of the Year, ranks as the leading scorer in all of NCAA Men's Basketball with a 30.3 PPG average and also nets 6.5 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.7 steals per contest. He enters the GNAC title bout shooting 51.5% (255-495) from the field, 41.5% (66-159) from three-point range and 81.3% (243-299) from the FT line.
Darren Faust '11 (Queens, NY) averages 15.1 points per game and is currently shooting 40.5% (64-158) from downtown. Calvin Jones '12 (Providence, RI) rounds out the Wildcats' top-scoring trio with 12.3 PPG and ranks second on the team with 5.3 caroms per contest.
Thomas posted a herculean effort with 40 points and an astounding 20 assists in the win over Albertus on Thursday night. All five JWU starters scored at least 17 points in the high-scoring affair as Louis Ferreras '11 (Providence, RI) added 20, James Folk '12 (Lawrence, MA) and Jones both netted 18, and Faust contributed 17 on the evening.
The Wildcats shot an otherworldly 75.4% (43-57) from the floor in the semifinal triumph over the Falcons.
Johnson & Wales is currently shooting 47.5% from the floor, 38.3% from downtown, and 76.2% from the charity stripe. The Wildcats average 85.4 points, 34.3 rebounds, and 13.8 assists per game.
Saint Joseph's owns a 5-3 record in the history of the series with Johnson & Wales, but the Wildcats topped the Monks by a 106-90 tally in the last meeting between the teams, which took place on February 8th in Providence. O'Brien and Thomas both dropped 28 points that night.