GORHAM, ME – Saint Joseph's College (2-0) defeated University of Southern Maine, 70-56, in a non-conference men's basketball contest on Sunday afternoon. Sophomore guard Steve Simonds (Steep Falls, Maine) registered 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the triumph.
With the win, the Monks retain possession of the Costello Cup, presented annually to the winner of the contest between the two schools, for the fifth straight year. Contested over the past 24 years, the Costello Cup honors the late Richard "Doc" Costello, former USM Athletic Director and long-time basketball coach. Saint Joseph's owns a 15-9 record versus Southern Maine during the Costello Cup series.
St. Joe's held an advantage for all but the opening minutes and utilized a 10-0 run over a five-minute span midway through the first half to secure the lead for good. Trailing 8-4 at the 16:20 mark, junior forward James Philbrook (Auburn, Maine) made a layup to start the run and sophomore guard Jordan Tripp (Maspeth, N.Y.) capped the surge with his second bucket of the stretch to provide the Royal Blue with a 14-8 cushion with 11:49 remaining in the first period.
SJC freshman Craig Luschenat (Boston, Mass.) and USM senior Mike Poulin (Readfield, Maine) swapped three-pointers in the closing minutes of the opening stanza as the Monks carried a 30-24 lead into intermission.
Saint Joseph's shot 44.4% (12-27) from the floor, 16.7% (2-12) from three-point distance and 66.7% (4-6) from the FT line in the opening 20 minutes while Southern Maine shot 32.1% (9-28) from the field, 22.2% (2-9) from downtown and 80% (4-5) from the charity stripe before the half. Sullivan led all first-half scorers with 10 points.
Ahead by six, 30-24, at the half, the Monks opened the second half with a 7-2 run to take control of the contest. Simonds factored heavily into the run for the visitors, assisting on the first two baskets and canning a three at 17:10 to help Saint Joseph's mount a 37-26 lead.
The in-state rivals traded baskets over the next several minutes and the Huskies pulled to within six points of the Monks, 41-35, on a layup from sophomore center Tanner Storey (Cumberland, Maine/Greely) with 14:15 to play, but St. Joe's responded with a 9-2 run for a 50-37 lead. Four different players contributed to the run for Saint Joseph's, which was highlighted by a three from junior guard Matthew Medeiros (Westport, Mass.). Southern Maine was unable to get closer than nine points the rest of the way as the Monks cruised to the 70-56 final.
For the Monks, junior forward Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, Maine) recorded 13 points and six rebounds, Medeiros added 12 points, Luschenat contributed six points and four caroms, and Philbrook and Krubiel Workie (Denver, Colo.) chipped in six points apiece. Senior guard Julio Vazquez (Waterbury, Conn.) pulled down a game-high 10 boards in the victory.
For the Huskies, Sullivan led all scorers with 18 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebound, senior guard Alex Kee (Bath, Maine) added 13 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals, and Poulin added eight points, six rebounds and seven assists in a losing effort.
Overall, Saint Joseph's shot a solid 50.9% (28-55) from the field, 21.9% (4-19) from beyond the arc and 76.9% (10-13) from the free throw line. Southern Maine countered by shooting 35.5% (22-62) from the floor, 27.3% (6-22) and 50% (6-12) from the line.
The Monks held advantages in rebounds (42-31) and assists (19-10) while the Huskies won the turnover battle (11-17) and sported a 10-2 lead in steals on the afternoon.
With the victory, Saint Joseph's improves to 32-32 in the history of the series with University of Southern Maine. Today's margin of victory over USM is the largest since the Monks defeated the Huskies by 17, 72-55, on November 30th, 2008.
Both teams return to action on Tuesday night, when Saint Joseph's hosts Bates College at 7:00 PM and Southern Maine travels to Bowdoin College for a 5:30 PM tip-off.
THANKS IN PART TO USM SPORTS INFORMATION
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.