STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's College (3-0) outlasted Bates College (2-3), 66-54, in a non-conference men's basketball contest at the Harold Alfond Center on Tuesday evening. Sophomore guard Steve Simonds (Steep Falls, Maine) poured in a game-high 25 points and went 5-7 from three-point distance with seven rebounds in the victory.
The Monks held the lead for the vast majority of the evening and seemed to be on the verge of pulling away on several occasions, but would not do so until the closing minutes when the Royal Blue posted a 20-4 run en route to notching a game-high 17-point cushion.
Bates, which opened the year with consecutive victories but has now dropped three straight, played well in stretches but eventually ran out of comeback attempts. The Bobcats were led offensively by junior point guard Luke Matarazzo (Shelton, Conn.), who netted 22 in a losing effort.
The Bobcats' only lead of the evening occurred near the start of the game when Matarazzo made a pair of free throws at the 18:51 mark. Leading 9-8 with 13:20 left in the opening frame, freshman Craig Luschenat (Boston, Mass.) drained the first of two trifectas during a 41-second span to help the hosts secure a 15-8 advantage.
Simonds hit his second three-pointer of the night to lift the Monks to a 20-10 lead with 9:45 left in the first half, but the comfortable cushion would not last long as the Bobcats surged with an 11-3 burst to cut their deficit to just two points, 25-23, five minutes later. Bates senior center Ed Bogdanovich (Portland, Maine) made a layup 1:06 before the half to make it a four-point game, but Simonds drained a three and senior guard Julio Vazquez (Waterbury, Conn.) sank a layup to more than offset a Mark Brust (Duxbury, Mass.) jumper as Saint Joseph's carried a 34-27 advantage into intermission.
In the first half, Saint Joseph's shot 48.1% (13-27) from the field and 60% (6-10) from three-point distance while making both free throw attempts. Bates shot 32.4% (11-34) from the floor and 15.4% (2-13) from downtown and made all three FT bids in the opening 20 minutes.
Simonds led all first-half scorers with 16 points while Matarazzo tallied 10 points to lead the visitors in the opening frame.
The Monks opened the second stanza with an 8-2 run, buoyed by five Matthew Medeiros (Westport, Mass.) points, and held a 42-29 lead with 17:02 left in the contest. But the Bobcats methodically whittled the SJC advantage down to just one point as a Billy Selmon (Atlanta, Ga.) layup made it a 46-45 game with 10:34 remaining.
The Bobcats would not take or even share the lead however, as Simonds jumpstarted the aforementioned 20-4 offensive outburst with a pair of freebies at the 9:32 mark. Junior forward Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, Maine) capped the surge with a bucket in the paint to lift his team to a 66-49 lead with 45 seconds left.
Bogdanovich closed a six-minute scoring drought for the Bobcats when he made a layup with 23 seconds remaining and Matarazzo drilled a three-pointer 10 seconds later to cap the game scoring and account for the 66-54 final.
For the Monks, Jobin tallied 14 points, three boards and three assists, Vazquez put forth a solid effort with 10 points, nine caroms, six assists and two steals, and Medeiros chipped in with eight points and five rebounds in the victory.
For the Bobcats, Bogdanovich put up 17 points and eight rebounds and Brust tallied six points and four boards in a losing effort.
Overall, Saint Joseph's shot 45.3% (24-53) from the floor, 42.1% (8-19) from downtown, and 90.9% (10-11) from the charity stripe while Bates shot 36.5% (23-63) from the field, 18.2% (4-22) from three-point range, and 100% (4-4) from the FT line.
Saint Joseph's held a 15-5 advantage in assists and both teams pulled down 34 rebounds on the evening.
With the victory, Saint Joseph's improves to 7-10 in the history of the series with Bates College and brings a three-game losing streak at the hands of the Bobcats to a close. For the Monks, tonight's winning margin over the Bobcats is the largest since the Royal Blue defeated Bates by an 88-67 score on February 5th, 1997.
Saint Joseph's will travel to Husson University for a 7:30 PM contest on Thursday, while Bates is off until next Monday when the Bobcats play host to Maine-Farmington in a 7:00 PM tip-off.
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.