BOSTON, MA – Suffolk University (2-3, 1-0 GNAC) defeated Saint Joseph's College (3-2, 0-1 GNAC), 77-68, in what was the 2012 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) men's basketball opener for both teams on Saturday afternoon. Junior forward Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, Maine) registered 20 points, eight rebounds and four steals in the losing effort.
Trailing 45-22 at the half, Saint Joseph's played much better in the second stanza and rallied to within six points very late in the conference contest, but the Monks were unable to overcome a shaky start and would drop the GNAC opener for the second-consecutive season.
Sophomore forward Zach Blodgett (Glenburn, Maine) drilled a three-pointer off a Krubiel Workie (Denver, Colo.) feed, cutting the SJC deficit down to 22-16 with 11:52 remaining in the first half. The Monks' shooters went cold after the Blodgett trifecta however, as the Royal Blue made just two of 12 field goal attempts for the remainder of the opening period. The Rams continued to play well in the meantime, as the hosts outscored the visitors by a whopping 23-6 margin leading up to the break and carried a 45-22 cushion into intermission.
In the first half, Saint Joseph's shot 38.1% (8-21) from the field, 25% (3-12) from downtown and 37.5% (3-8) from the free throw line. Suffolk countered by shooting 47.1% (16-34) from the floor, 50% (8-16) from three-point range, and 71.4% (5-7) from the line in the opening frame.
Suffolk freshman Caleb Unni (Winchester, Mass.) netted 16 to lead all first-half scorers while junior Matthew Medeiros (Westport, Mass.) scored five to pace the Monks in the first period. The Rams proved to be opportunistic in the first half, scoring 16 points off 11 St. Joe's turnovers in the opening 20 minutes of play.
Saint Joseph's kicked off the second stanza with eight unanswered points to cut the deficit down to 45-30 with 16:53 remaining. But Unni made a three-pointer on the Rams' following possession and Suffolk maintained an advantage of at least 18 points until Jobin hit a pair of freebies at the 6:06 mark to ignite a 23-9 burst that saw the Royal Blue cut the hosts' cushion down to six points, 73-67, with just 13 seconds left.
Senior Colin Halpin (Melrose, Mass.), who scored his 1,000th-career point midway through the second half, and Unni combined to go 7-8 from the free throw line in the final minute to help keep the comeback-minded Monks at bay.
For the Monks, Medeiros scored 15 points with three steals, Steve Simonds (Steep Falls, Maine) netted 11, Blodgett added eight points, and senior Julio Vazquez (Waterbury, Conn.) produced eight points, four boards and four assists in the loss. Workie contributed six points and five caroms in 12 minutes of playing time.
For the Rams, Unni scored a game-high 29 points after going 5-8 from long distance and 14-15 from the free throw line and Halpin recorded 25 points and nine rebounds for the hosts.
Overall, St. Joe's shot 47.8% (22-46) from the floor, 43.8% (7-16) from three-point range, and 56.7% (17-30 from the line in a losing bid. Suffolk shot 37.7% (23-61) from the field, 37.5% (9-24) from downtown, and 88% (22-25) from the FT line on the afternoon.
With the result, Saint Joseph's falls to 9-2 in the history of the series with Suffolk University. The Monks' other loss to the Rams, a 77-71 setback, took place in Boston on December 11th, 2010.
Saint Joseph's returns to action with a conference contest at home versus Rivier University on Thursday night at 7:00 PM, while Suffolk hosts New England College on Monday night at 7:30 PM.
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.