STANDISH, ME – #2 Saint Joseph's (18-8, 13-5 GNAC) skated past #7 Mount Ida College (9-17, 6-12 GNAC), 79-43, in a GNAC Men's Basketball Tournament quarterfinal contest at the Alfond Center on Tuesday evening. Freshman forward Zach Blodgett (Glenburn, Maine) left the bench to score a team-high 12 points off a 5-7 shooting effort in the victory.
With the triumph St. Joe's advances to the semifinals and will host #6 Anna Maria College, a team that defeated the Monks twice during the regular season, on Thursday evening at 7:30 PM. Anna Maria upset #3 Johnson & Wales University with a narrow 64-63 victory over the reigning conference champions earlier tonight in Providence. For Mount Ida, the 2011-12 season comes to a close with the loss.
The game, a rematch of a 2011 playoff quarterfinal with teams of the same seeding, was closely-contested early, but the Monks utilized a lengthy offensive run to establish separation heading into intermission. Leading 19-14 with 9:35 left in the first half, St. Joe's outscored Mount Ida by a 15-6 margin in the closing minutes of the opening frame and carried a comfortable 36-20 advantage into the break.
Sophomore forward Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, Maine) brought the crowd to life with a dunk on a fast break midway through the first half and led all scorers with 11 points going into the locker room. Junior center Jeffrey McNair (Brockton, Mass.) paced the Mustangs with six first-half points.
Saint Joseph's shot a blistering 64% from the field and used the extra pass wisely with 11 assists in the opening stanza.
The second half was no friendlier to the visitors as St. Joe's, leading 44-26 at the 15:10 mark, posted a 13-0 run over the subsequent six minutes to secure a 57-26 cushion and break the Mustangs' spirits.
Blodgett netted a fast-break layup to lift his team to a game-high 38-point lead, 68-30, with 6:18 remaining and the Monks maintained at minimum a 33-point spread until the final buzzer rang.
For St. Joe's, senior guard Zach O'Brien (Schenectady, N.Y.) registered a double-double with 11 points and a career-high 10 assists in 24 minutes of playing time and Jobin finished the contest with 11 points and four rebounds. Senior guard Chris Petzy (Kensington, N.H.) and sophomore guard Matthew Medeiros (Westport, Mass.) produced seven points and three boards apiece and sophomore forward James Philbrook (Auburn, Maine) contributed four points, six boards and a pair of assists on the night.
All 15 Monks saw at least four minutes of court time and 14 different SJC players in the tourney win.
For Mount Ida, McNair tallied 12 points, five boards and three blocked shots and senior guard Isiah Benjamin (Windsor, Conn.) added 10 points, three assists and a pair of steals. Senior guard Keith Jones (Boston, Mass.) chipped in with eight points and four steals in the losing effort.
Overall, St. Joe's shot 57.9% (33-57) from the floor, 55% (11-20) from three-point range, and 50% (2-4) from the free-throw line while Mount Ida shot 36.2% (21-58) from the field and just 14.3% (1-7) from the stripe while missing all 11 bids from downtown.
The Monks held advantages in rebounds (39-25), assists (21-6), points in the paint (34-22), fast-break points (12-0), and bench points (44-5) on the way to the 34-point win – the largest winning margin over 10 GNAC playoff appearances for the Royal Blue. Prior to this evening, the Monks' largest cushion in a GNAC tourney tilt came in a 72-56 semifinal victory over Norwich University on February 24th, 2011.
With the win Saint Joseph's improves to 12-0 in the series with Mount Ida College and now owns a 7-3 record in GNAC Tournament contests over the past five seasons. The Mustangs fall to 0-3 in conference postseason play over the same span.
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.