STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's (9-3, 5-1 GNAC) toppled Norwich University (3-9, 2-4 GNAC), 63-32, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) men's basketball contest at the Harold Alfond Center on Saturday. Senior guard Zach O'Brien (Schenectady, N.Y.) recorded 12 points, five rebounds, and four assists in the lopsided triumph.
The conference counterparts came out of the gates cold as the first field goal of the game was not made until O'Brien converted a layup 2:55 into play. As it turned out, the Cadets would not recover from the slow start as the visitors shot just 19.4% (12-62) from the floor and 16% (4-25) from three-point distance in a losing effort.
Sophomore forward James Philbrook (Auburn, Maine) hit a shot to lift the Royal Blue to a 10-3 cushion with 14:21 left in the first half, but a three-pointer from Norwich senior forward Antonio Davis (Albany, N.Y.) cut the SJC lead down to four points just over two minutes later. St. Joe's answered however, as senior guard Chris Petzy (Kensington, N.H.) dialed in for a pair of trifectas to lift the hosts to their first double-digit lead, 16-6, with 10:22 to go in the opening period.
Saint Joseph's proceeded to lead by at least six points for the remainder of the first half and carried a 29-16 advantage into intermission. Petzy and sophomore forward Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, Maine) both netted nine points for the Monks in the opening stanza while Davis led all first-half scorers with 10 points in the first 20 minutes of play.
The hosts maintained the double-digit cushion for the remainder of the contest and extended the lead to 20 points when O'Brien hit a pair of freebies with 8:35 on the game clock. Ahead by 19, 49-30, with 7:21 to go, the Monks outscored the Cadets by a 14-2 margin until the final buzzer rang when the hosts held a game-high 31-point lead.
For the Monks, Petzy netted 11 and shot 3-6 from three-point range, sophomore center Clark Noonan (Bangor, Maine) added 10 points and seven caroms, and Jobin finished with nine points and three boards. Freshman forward Zach Blodgett (Glenburn, Maine) rattled off a season-high eight points in five minutes of mop-up duty and junior point guard Julio Vazquez (Waterbury, Conn.) pulled down a game-high nine rebounds in the triumph.
Freshman guard Steve Simonds (Steep Falls, Maine) hit a three-pointer with 1:55 remaining to net his first collegiate points while sophomore guard Chinyere Ibezim (Queens, N.Y.) recorded his first NCAA hoop when he tapped in a layup with 31 seconds to go.
For the Cadets, Davis capped the contest with 12 points, five rebounds, and six blocked shots and sophomore guard Everett Ramirez (Boyle Heights, Calif.) added seven points, four boards, and four steals in the loss.
Saint Joseph's held Norwich sophomore guard Tom McDonald (Groton, Mass.), who scored 30 points in a win over Mount Ida on Thursday, to just four points in this afternoon's contest. McDonald went 1-15 from floor and 1-11 from three-point distance on the afternoon.
Overall, St. Joe's shot 34.4% (22-64) from the floor, 25% (6-24) from three-point distance, and 81.3% (13-16) from the FT line while Norwich shot 19.4% (12-62) from the field, 16.0% (4-25) from downtown, and 66.7% (4-6) from the stripe.
For St. Joe's, 32 points is the fewest the team has allowed since January 10th, 1998 when the Royal Blue defeated Pratt Institute by a 112-31 margin. The Monks have not limited an opposing offense to fewer than 40 points since the team posted a 71-34 win over Maine-Presque Isle on February 19th, 2006. Opponents have scored fewer than 40 versus Saint Joseph's 10 times in the 42-year history of the SJC men's basketball program.
Both teams return to action Monday, when St. Joe's plays at Mount Ida College at 6:00 PM and Norwich travels to Rivier College for a 7:30 PM tipoff.