STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's College (10-8, 9-2 GNAC) edged Emmanuel College (4-14, 2-9 GNAC), 72-70, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) men's basketball contest at the Harold AlfondHarold Alfond Center on Wednesday evening. Junior forward Zach Blodgett (Glenburn, Maine) netted a career-high 23 rebounds off a 5-9 effort from three-point land and added seven rebounds in the narrow victory.
The Monks held the lead for all but the opening minutes, but the pace of the conference contest provided little comfort as the visiting Saints remained within striking distance for the entirety and nearly pulled off a stunning comeback triumph in the closing seconds.
Trailing by 10 (67-57) with 3:49 remaining in the second half, Emmanuel managed to cut the deficit down to one point, as the visitors rallied with three pointers from Josh Welles (Philadelphia, Pa.), Kyle Smith (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Alex Myers (Long Beach, Calif.), with the latter trifecta making it a 71-70 game with 13 seconds on the clock. With fouls to five, the Saints applied full-court pressure on the ensuing in-bounds play and nearly forced a turnover, but after three fouls junior Steve Simonds (Steep Falls, Maine) went to the FT line and hit a freebie to put is team up 72-70 with five seconds to play.
The second-year starter missed his second shot, but sophomore guard Jerome Diggs (Washington, D.C.) made an athletic play to grab the offensive board and was immediately fouled. Diggs went to the line and missed his first attempt as sophomore forward John Clay (Westport, Mass.) pulled down the defensive board and hurled a long pass down court that was beyond the reach of Myers, who was in position to make a last-second three pointer, but the ball went through his hands as time expired.
For the Monks, senior guard Matthew Medeiros (Westport, Mass.) scored 16, Simonds added 12 in 18 second-half minutes, senior forward Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, Maine) recorded eight points, eight rebounds and three assists, and Diggs tallied five points, seven assists and six caroms in the conference win.
Smith paced the Saints with 21 points while senior guard Brandon Jones (Windsor, Conn.) added 13 points and five rebounds and Myers produced 11 points and made all three of his downtown bids, and freshman swingman James Sullivan (Wethersfield, Conn.) contributed 12 points and three boards in a losing effort.
Saint Joseph's shot 51% (26-51) from the field, 45.8% (11-24) from three-point distance, and 56.3% (9-16) from the free throw line on the evening. Emmanuel shot 45.2% (28-62) from the floor, 50% (10-20) from downtown and 80% (4-5) from the charity stripe in the GNAC setback.
The Monks held a 35-29 advantage on the boards and were credited with 20 assists on 26 made field goals in the triumph. St. Joe's also owned a slight 20-18 lead on points in the paint while the Saints posted a 10-3 advantage in second chance points and a slim 15-14 lead in points off turnovers on the evening.
Both teams host conference opponents on Saturday afternoon, when Saint Joseph's faces off against Albertus Magnus College at 3:00 PM and Emmanuel takes on Lasell College in a 1:00 PM tip-off.