BRUNSWICK, ME – Saint Joseph's College (2-0) defeated Bowdoin College (2-1), 70-68, in a non-conference men's basketball tilt on Tuesday night. Senior guard Chris Petzy (Kensington, N.H.) poured in a career-high 33 points off a 7-11 effort from three-point range in the victory.
The Monks held a lead as large as 12 points midway through the second half after enduring an opening stanza in which the teams swapped leads seven times and the score stood at a stalemate on four occasions. The Polar Bears mounted a furious comeback bid late, but St. Joe's managed to stave off the hosts by making six of eight free throw attempts in the closing minutes.
Petzy's 33 points is the most scored by an SJC player since Elbie Murphy '09 netted 34 against Lincoln University on February 24th, 2007. His previous career-high came in an 84-80 win over Johnson & Wales on December 8th, 2010.
Also, his three-point tally in tonight's triumph is the second most made by a Monks player in the history of the program. Chad Pulkkinen '07 and former teammate Tyler Kelley '11 also made seven shots from downtown while donning the Royal Blue. Several St. Joe's players have made eight trifectas in a game with Carl Howell '99 being the latest to accomplish the feat (12/2/98 vs. Atlantic Union).
Bowdoin opened the game on a 5-0 surge as Andrew Madlinger hit a three-pointer on the hosts' first possession and Maximilian Staiger connected on a layup at the 18:16 mark to put his team on top by a handful early.
A see-saw battle ensued, as the Monks returned fire with three-pointers from Petzy and Zach O'Brien '12 (Schenectady, N.Y.) to take their first lead of the evening just over a minute later. Neither team would gain a lead of more than two points until St. Joe's notched a 7-0 run – including five points from Petzy – to secure a 24-18 advantage with 9:54 remaining in the first half.
Petzy went on to drain threes on the Monks' next two trips down the court to help offset a Will Hanley '12 (New Canaan, Conn.) dunk as the visitors held a 30-22 cushion with 8:17 before the break.
The SJC lead would not dwindle below five points for the remainder of the half and O'Brien connected on a trey at the 2:44 mark to put his team up by 10, 39-29. But the Polar Bears would close the gap, as Matt Mathias '14 (Baltimore, Md.) hit a jumper and Ryan O'Connell '12 (Ipswich, Mass.) drained a three to cap the opening-period scoring with St. Joe's ahead, 39-34.
In the first half, St. Joe's shot 54.2% (13-24) from the floor, 46.7% (7-15) from three-point range, and 100% (6-6) from the charity stripe. Bowdoin shot 53.6% (15-28) from the field and 57.1% (4-7) from beyond the arc while missing on both freebie attempts over the first 20 minutes.
O'Connell effectively book-ended the intermission with an opening bucket to cut the hosts' deficit to 39-36, but the complexion of the contest changed when the Monks recorded a 13-4 run over the next 10 minutes. Petzy capped the scoring burst with a three-pointer at the 9:34 mark to lift the visitors to their largest lead – 12 points, 52-40 - of the night.
With a sense of urgency, the Polar Bears netted eight points in a matter of 90 seconds to draw within four, 52-48. SJC Head Coach Rob Sanicola '99 astutely called a timeout following the hosts' outbreak and O'Brien made a pair of free throws on the next possession to give his team some breathing room.
Saint Joseph's was forced to use another timeout with 4:05 on the clock after Bowdoin notched an 8-3 surge to cut the Monks' lead to just one point, 59-58. The Polar Bears would not taste even a share of the lead, however, as O'Brien made a key three-pointer and Clark Noonan '14 (Bangor, Maine) put in a layup to more than offset a Hanley bucket over the following two minutes.
Down by two, 64-62, after Justin Nowell '12 (Cos Cob, Conn.) converted a layup at the 1:16 mark, Bowdoin had little choice but to foul. Fortunately, Petzy and O'Brien combined to net six of eight freebie attempts in the closing 72 seconds and Matthew Medeiros '14 (Westport, Mass.) forced a turnover off an offensive board as time expired to help preserve the victory.
St. Joe's shot 44.7% (21-47) from the field, 40% (10-25) from downtown, and 81.8% (18-22) from the free throw line. Bowdoin shot 46.8% (29-62) overall, 50% (9-18) from three-point distance, and 25% (1-4) in the loss.
For the Monks, O'Brien tallied 22 points and five caroms and Nicholas Jobin '14 (Westbrook, Maine) added eight points, four boards and two steals. The combined 55 points scored by Petzy and O'Brien is the most by an SJC pair since Travis Seaver '03 (23) and C.J. Vose '03 (34) combined to net 57 in a 109-102 win over Maine-Machias on February 19th, 2000.
For the Polar Bears, O'Connell scored 19, Hanley recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Nowell came off the bench to contribute nine points in a losing effort.
With the win Saint Joseph's improves to 7-12 in the history of the series with Bowdoin College. The Monks have now defeated the Polar Bears in three of the last four meetings – with all four being decided by five or fewer points - after dropping six straight to the in-state rivals during a span of five years.
St. Joe's has shown a knack for playing well in close contests over the past three seasons. During this time the Royal Blue has posted an impressive 20-9 (.690) record in games decided by fewer than five points and hold a 9-2 (.818) mark in tilts won by two or less.
Saint Joseph's will host University of Southern Maine on Sunday at 7:30 PM in the annual battle for the Costello Cup. Bowdoin travels to Husson University on Sunday for a 4:00 PM tip-off.