STANDISH, ME - Saint Joseph's (14-5, 10-3 GNAC) defeated Emerson College (3-17, 3-11 GNAC), 62-52, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) men's basketball contest at the Harold Alfond Center on Thursday evening. Senior guard Zach O'Brien (Schenectady, N.Y.) tallied 14 points, eight assists and six rebounds in the victory.
The Monks, who led from buzzer to buzzer, raced out of the gates offensively, but cooled down the first half stretch and held a slim 27-24 edge over the Lions heading into intermission. Emerson maintained a single-digit deficit until Saint Joseph's pulled away midway through the second stanza.
St. Joe's dominated play early as the hosts held a 17-4 cushion after O'Brien drained a three-pointer at the 7:18 mark of the first half. The Lions rallied with a 14-6 surge over the following five minutes and trailed by five, 23-18, when senior forward Nathan Firn (Wadesboro, N.C.) capped the run with a layup at the 2:46 mark. Sophomore guard James Rhodes (Hebron, Conn.) helped the visitors cut the SJC lead down to three points at halftime by netting a pair of trifectas in the closing 90 seconds of the opening period.
Saint Josephs' shot 43.5% from the field, 40% from three-point land, and 71.4% from the free throw line in the first half. Emerson countered by shooting 35.7% from the floor, 50% from downtown, and 75% from the charity stripe over the first 20 minutes of play.
O'Brien paced the Monks with nine points and dealt six dimes while sophomore forward Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, Maine) added eight points in the first half. Rhodes led the Lions with nine points before the break.
The conference counterparts essentially traded punches in the opening eight minutes of the second half as a jumper by Emerson freshman forward Patrick Lowndes (Granby, Conn.) made it a seven-point game (42-35) with 12:24 remaining. The Monks proceeded to outscore the Lions by an 18-7 margin over the subsequent seven minutes and held a comfortable 60-42 lead when freshman forward Zach Blodgett (Glenburn, Maine) hit a jumper at the 5:20 mark.
For St. Joe's, Jobin added 12 points and five rebounds and senior guard Chris Petzy (Kensington, N.H.) contributed 12 points and three caroms. Senior forward Tom Ray (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) notched eight points and five boards, Blodgett contributed seven points in nine minutes off the bench, and junior guard Julio Vazquez (Waterbury, Conn.) notched four assists, four rebounds, and three steals in the win.
For Emerson, Rhodes poured in 16 off a 6-8 performance from the field which included a 4-6 effort from beyond the arc. Firn added six points, three boards, three assists and a pair of steals and Lowndes chipped in with six points, seven boards, and two steals in a losing effort.
Overall, Saint Joseph's shot 47.2% (25-53) from the floor, 41.7% (5-12) from three-point range, and 77.8% (7-9) from the charity stripe while Emerson shot 36.8% (21-57) from the field, 46.7% (7-15) from beyond the arc, and 75% (3-4) from the FT line.
The Monks held advantages in rebounds (37-29), assists (16-14), points in the paint (28-24), points off turnovers (13-9) and second-chance points (12-4) on the night. The Lions' bench outscored the Monks' bench players by a 33-14 margin.
With the win, Saint Joseph's improves to 5-4 in the history of the series with Emerson College and has now defeated the Lions in five consecutive meetings dating back to the 2009-10 campaign. For Emerson, the 52 points scored is the fewest versus St. Joe's in the nine-game set.
Saint Joseph's, which recorded its 10th conference win of the year with tonight's result, is the only GNAC team to reach double-digit victories in each of the last five seasons. The Monks lead the GNAC in wins over conference opponents (62), winning percentage (.729, 62-23), overall victories (88), and overall winning percentage (.682, 88-41) since joining the conference in time for the 2007-08 campaign.
Both teams resume GNAC play this Saturday when Saint Joseph's plays at Anna Maria College in a 3:00 PM tip-off and Emerson hosts Suffolk University in a 12:00 PM start.
Saint Joseph's College, founded in 1912 by the Sisters of Mercy, celebrates its Centennial year in 2012 with a theme of "Realize the Promise" – honoring our commitment to educating well-rounded graduates who combine career focus with classic liberal arts studies. A Private, Catholic, primarily residential, coeducational liberal arts institution, Saint Joseph's welcomes students of all ages and all faiths. The campus, located 18 miles northwest of Portland and just two hours from Boston, encompasses 350 acres along the shore of beautiful Sebago Lake in Standish, Maine. Enrollment ranges between 1,000 and 1,100 students annually. Saint Joseph's offers challenging academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences, education, nursing and business fields in a value-centered environment.