NASHUA, NH – Junior forward Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, Maine) drained a jumper from just inside the free throw line with 1.9 seconds remaining to lift Saint Joseph's (8-5, 4-3 GNAC) past Rivier University (6-7, 2-4 GNAC), 56-55, in Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) men's basketball action on Saturday afternoon.
The Monks led for the better part of the first half and held a 39-32 advantage after Jobin connected on a pair of freebies three minutes into the second stanza. The Raiders managed to erase the deficit and then some with a 13-2 run, which was capped with a Garon Whitney (Dover, N.H.) free throw with 10:34 remaining.
Rivier went on to own at least a share of the lead for all but the Monks' final possession and led by as many as four points (55-51) after Whitney nailed a three at the 1:53 mark, but sophomore guard Steve Simonds (Steep Falls, Maine) hit a trifecta of his own 31 seconds later to make it a one-point tilt and Jobin came through in the clutch in the waning seconds, providing the Royal Blue with their fourth conference triumph of the season.
Saint Joseph's looked to claim control of the contest midway through the opening frame with the help of a major momentum swing. Trailing 19-13 at the 11:24 mark, the Monks produced 15 unanswered points and held a 28-19 cushion after senior point guard Julio Vazquez (Waterbury, Conn.) closed the run with a layup off a Simonds dish with 6:51 left in the first.
The Monks held a 34-28 lead heading into intermission and shot 45.2% (14-31) from the field, 10% (1-10) from three-point distance, and 62.5% (5-8) from the FT line before the break. The Raiders shot 41.7% (10-24) overall, 25% (2-8) from downtown and 75% (6-8) from the charity stripe in the opening period.
Rivier junior forward Tom Poitras (Bow, N.H.) led all first-half scorers with 12 points while Jobin paced the Royal Blue with 10 points in the opening 20 minutes.
With the hosts challenging early in the second stanza, junior guard Matthew Medeiros (Westport, Mass.) made a jumper with 14:05 left to put his team ahead 41-38, but the Raiders would score six straight off a pair of three-pointers to assume their first lead since the 9:28 mark of the first half. Freshman Edward Soucie (South Ryegate, Vt.) hit the first trifecta at the 13:14 mark and junior Shawn Gareau (Hardwick, Mass.) drained the latter, lifting the hosts to a 44-41 lead with 10:57 to play.
The Monks showed considerable poise down the stretch, particularly from the free throw line. A Vazquez layup at the 8:42 mark tied the game at 45-apiece, but the field goal would be the visitors' last for over seven minutes as St. Joe's went 0-6 from the floor and committed three turnovers during the closing span. Thankfully, the Monks went 6-7 from the charity stripe in the final minutes, an effort that made the thrilling finish possible.
Jobin paced the Monks with 16 points and added six boards while Vazquez tallied 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals and Simonds contributed 10 points, five caroms and a pair of dimes in the victory.
Poitras led all scorers with 18 points and tallied seven rebounds and four blocked shots and Nick Walch (Dedham, Mass.) chipped in 14 points and five rebounds in a losing effort.
Overall, Saint Joseph's shot 37.7% (20-53) from the field, 15.8% (3-19) from three-point distance and 65% (13-20) from the FT line and Rivier shot 43.5% (20-46) from the floor, 41.2% (7-17) from downtown, and 66.7% (8-12) from the charity stripe in the conference contest.
The Monks scored 21 points off 12 Raiders turnovers and held a 28-20 advantage in points in the paint in the triumph.
With the victory, Saint Joseph's improves to 9-3 in the history of the series with Rivier University and has now defeated the Raiders in eight consecutive meetings dating back to the 2008-09 campaign. Three of the Monks' wins over the Raiders, including a 56-54 triumph last season, have come by fewer than three points.
Both teams resume GNAC play on Tuesday evening when Saint Joseph's hosts Mount Ida College at 7:30 PM and Rivier plays at Anna Maria College at 7:00 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.