STANDISH, ME – Sixth-seeded Anna Maria College (14-13, 10-8 GNAC) continued its improbable playoff run with a 60-59 GNAC Tournament semifinal victory over #2 Saint Joseph's (18-9, 13-5 GNAC) at the Harold Alfond Center on Thursday night.
Trailing 59-58 with game clock running down, AMCATS junior guard Anthony Click (Springfield, Mass.) drove the lane and laid in the game-winning basket with two seconds remaining in regulation. The Monks advanced the ball to midcourt with a throw-in and timeout and, with 1.4 seconds left inbounded the ball to senior guard Chris Petzy (Kensington, N.H.), who heaved a deep three-point attempt from the left-side baseline that fell off target.
With the victory Anna Maria, a first-year member of the GNAC, advances to face top-seeded – and nationally-ranked – Albertus Magnus College in the conference title tilt on Saturday at 1:00 PM in New Haven, Connecticut. Albertus, ranked 15th in the most recent d3hoops.com national poll, bested #4 Lasell College, 92-70, in the other semifinal matchup earlier this evening. The AMCATS nipped #3 Johnson & Wales, the reigning GNAC Champions, by a 64-63 score in a quarterfinal matchup on Tuesday.
Saint Joseph's held the lead for the majority of play, including the entire first half, but the AMCATS never strayed too far on the scoreboard as the Monks would not own a cushion larger than 13 points during the semifinal contest.
St. Joe's assembled the 13-point lead by way of an 11-3 run that was closed out by a three-pointer from senior guard Zach O'Brien (Schenectady, N.Y.) at the 5:04 mark of the first half. The double-digit advantage did not last long however, as the AMCATS put up an identical 11-3 surge of their own and trailed by five, 31-26, heading into intermission.
The visitors continued to play well early in the second stanza and secured their first lead of the night after outscoring the hosts by a 9-1 margin over the first 3:39 of the latter half. Freshman guard Hugh Daye (Worcester, Mass.) capped the surge with a layup to provide his squad with a 35-24 edge.
Ignited by a pair of Petzy trifectas, the Monks quickly rebuilt their lead with a 10-2 outbreak and held a 44-37 lead when O'Brien closed out the SJC run with a layup at the 13:43 mark. Anna Maria answered with an 8-1 burst to knot the game at 45-apiece less than three minutes later.
A see-saw battle ensued, as the conference counterparts essentially traded blows for the remainder of play. The contest featured three tie scores and three lead changes over the closing nine minutes.
St. Joe's led 53-51 after O'Brien knocked down a jumper at the 6:24 mark, but AMCATS sophomore forward Quantez Franklin (South Yarmouth, Mass.) answered with a bucket of his own 21 seconds later. Sophomore forward Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, Maine) slammed home a dunk, and brought the home crowd to life, on the following SJC possession but Ana Maria freshman Corey Pryor (Northbridge, Mass.) nailed a three-pointer off a Daye dime, effectively negating Jobin's rim-rattler both on the scoreboard and momentum-wise, to propel the visitors to a 56-55 edge with 4:29 to play.
A Daye jump shot gave the AMCATS their largest lead of the night 1:08 later but O'Brien cut the Monks' deficit down to the minimum with a layup at the 3:03 mark. SJC captains O'Brien and Petzy connected on a perfectly-executed back-door play to give the Royal Blue a 59-58 edge with 2:12 remaining but, unfortunately for Saint Joseph's, the bucket was the team's last of the night.
Petzy paced the Monks with 19 points and tallied five three-pointers, five rebounds, and three assists in the season finale. O'Brien registered 18 points, nine caroms and four assists and Jobin chipped in with 11 points and five boards in the loss.
Click recorded a double-double with game-highs of 22 points and 11 rebounds and Pryor came off the bench to net 13 while making all three attempts from downtown. Daye added 10 points and junior swingman Javier Bristol (Haverhill, Mass.) contributed nine points, eight rebounds and three steals in the semifinal victory.
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.