STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's (5-1, 1-1 GNAC) defeated Lasell College (2-6, 1-1 GNAC), 78-63, in Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) men's basketball action at the Harold Alfond Center on Thursday evening. Sophomore guard Matthew Medeiros (Westport, Mass.) scored a career-high 20 points and went 8-8 from the free throw line in the victory.
The Monks managed to outlast the Lasers, who fought back from double-digit deficits on several occasions, thanks largely to an excellent team performance from the free throw line and consistent work on the glass. Saint Joseph's made 20 of 23 shots from the stripe – including a 15-15 effort in the second half - and outrebounded Lasell by a 41-29 margin en route to gaining the team's first conference win of the young season.
For the Monks, sophomore center Clark Noonan (Bangor, Maine) notched his first collegiate double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds and classmate Nich Jobin (Westbrook, Maine) enjoyed a productive evening with 12 points off a 5-9 shooting performance in the victory.
Not to be outdone by the sophomore class, seniors Zach O'Brien (Schenectady, N.Y.) and Chris Petzy (Kensington, N.H.) registered 13 and 12 points, respectively, on the night. Senior forward Tom Ray (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) also played well and grabbed seven caroms and scored four points while playing excellent defense for the Monks.
Lasell junior guard Sean Bertanza (Seymour, Conn.), who scored an astounding 55 points off a 22-32 effort from the field in a narrow loss to St. Joe's at the Alfond Center last season, was unable to find his stroke tonight as the Lasers' leading scorer went 0-8 from downtown but still managed to pace his team in scoring with 18 points in the setback.
Senior forward Javon Williams (Mattapan, Mass.) produced 17 points and seven rebounds and sophomore guard Brock Walters (Jacksonville, Fla.) added 10 points in nine minutes coming off the bench for the visitors.
After falling behind by a wide margin early in a loss to Albertus Magnus last Saturday, Saint Joseph's made sure to not repeat history as the hosts raced out to a 28-8 lead over Lasell after 13 minutes of play. Although the game would get close midway through the second half, the only advantage the Lasers would hold came when Williams scored a layup on their first possession of the game.
St. Joe's had Lasell on its heels when Medeiros drained a trifecta at the 3:17 mark to provide the Royal Blue with a 36-15 cushion, but the Lasers managed to net 10 unanswered points – a surge punctuated by a pair of Walters three-pointers – and were back in the game at halftime when Monks held a decimated 39-27 lead.
Medeiros, 4-5 from three-point land in the opening stanza, led all scorers with 12 first-half points while Petzy notched 10 in the first 20 minutes of play. Bertanza ranked as the Lasers' leading scorer with eight points at the break while Mello contributed seven for the visitors.
In the first half, Saint Joseph's shot 42.4% from the floor, 66.7% from three-point distance, and 62.5% from the free throw line. Lasell countered by shooting 38.7% from the field and 33.3% from downtown and did not attempt a freebie in the opening 20 minutes.
Williams took it upon himself to keep the Lasers in the game by scoring three consecutive buckets to draw his team within nine points, 43-34, with 17:11 remaining in the contest.
Lasell went on to methodically chip away at the deficit and had whittled the Monks' cushion down to just three points, 53-50, after Arthur Alexander '13 (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) made a pair of free throws with 8:23 to go. The Lasers would get no closer to the lead however, as the hosts proceeded to post an 11-1 outbreak over the following three minutes to regain control of the game.
But Lasell would not allow Saint Joseph's to earn an easy win, as the visitors mustered one final push with an 8-2 burst that saw the hosts' cushion fall to 66-61 after Ricky Landais '14 (Fall River, Mass.) capped the run with a layup at the 3:07 mark.
Basketball fundamentals allowed the Monks to seal the victory, as stingy defensive play and excellent free throw shooting helped the hosts prevail. Saint Joseph's forced three turnovers and the Lasers shot 1-5 from the floor in the closing minutes while the Royal Blue went a perfect 10-10 from the charity stripe during the same span en route to victory.
Freshman guard Matt Sullivan (West Babylon, N.Y.) made two of those free throws down the stretch to record his first collegiate points.
Overall, Saint Joseph's shot 47.3% (26-55) from the floor, 54.5% (6-11) from three-point land, and 87% (20-23) from the free throw line. Lasell shot 40.9% (27-66) from the field, 13.6% (3-22) from downtown, and 66.7% (6-9) from the FT line.
With the win, St. Joe's improves to 6-6 in the history of the series with Lasell College. The Monks have now defeated the Lasers in three consecutive meetings.
Saint Joseph's, the far and away GNAC leader in opponents' scoring average (62.0 PPG), has allowed opposing teams to score 372 points in six games this season – the second-lowest total through the first six games of a season in program history. Only the 2006-07 squad, which allowed 358 points (59.7 PPG), has given up fewer to start a campaign.
Both teams resume play versus GNAC opponents on Saturday when Saint Joseph's travels to Suffolk University for a 1:00 PM tipoff and Lasell hosts Anna Maria College at 2:00 PM.