STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's College (11-8, 9-2 GNAC) upset nationally-ranked Albertus Magnus College (17-2, 11-1 GNAC), 74-55, in a GNAC men's basketball contest at the Harold AlfondHarold Alfond Center on Saturday afternoon. Senior guard Matthew Medeiros (Westport, Mass.) scored a game-high 24 points with seven assists in the victory over the Falcons, who are ranked 16th in the most recent D3Hoops.com national poll.
Saint Joseph's set the tone early in the conference contest, as the hosts jumped out to a 14-4 lead at the 12:24 mark when junior forward Zach Blodgett (Glenburn, Maine) netted the Monks' fourth three-pointer of the game. St. Joe's, which shot 63% (17-27) from the floor and 60% (9-15) from downtown in the opening frame, continued to pad the lead and carried a considerable 44-22 cushion going into halftime.
The Falcons, who entered today's tilt with the fourth-highest points per game average (91.7 PPG) in NCAA DIII Men's Basketball, struggled to find their rhythm and shot 38.5% (10-26) from the field while converting just one of 10 shots from beyond the arc in the first half.
The Monks opened the second stanza with nine unanswered points and owned the largest lead of the day (31) when senior forward Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, Maine) made a layup off a Jordan Tripp (Maspeth, N.Y.) pass to make it a 53-22 score with 17:13 left.
Fighting to get back into the game, Albertus put up a 14-3 run over a six-minute window to cut the deficit down to 58-41 with 7:40 remaining. Saint Joseph's had trouble with the Falcons' full-court press and went 1-4 from the floor with five turnovers during the same span, but was able to regroup and utilized an 8-11 free-throw shooting performance down the stretch to all but clinch the conference win.
Leading 72-55 with 1:21 to play, Jobin put an exclamation point on the victory - and brought the crowd to its feet - when he found a seam on the baseline and threw down a one-handed dunk to cap the game scoring.
For the Monks, Jobin tallied 18 points and seven rebounds, Blodgett poured in 17 with seven caroms and a pair of steals, Steve Simonds (Steep Falls, Maine) added 13 points, four rebounds and three steals and Tripp contributed six assists, four caroms and a pair of steals in the win.
For the Falcons, senior swingman Darius Watson (New Britain, Conn.) recorded 15 points, five boards and three steals, junior guard Eian Davis (Brooklyn, N.Y.) chipped in with 13 points, three boards and a pair of steals, and junior forward Victor Ljuljdjuraj (Bronx, N.Y.) recorded five points, nine boards and a pair of blocked shots in the losing effort.
Overall, Saint Joseph's shot 56.5% (26-46) from the floor, 47.8% (11-23) from three-point distance, and 78.6% (11-14) from the free throw line in the win. Albertus Magnus countered by shooting 41.2% (21-51) from the field, 21.1% (4-19) from downtown and 56.3% (9-16) from the FT line.
The Monks held a 31-24 advantage on the glass and recorded an assist on 20 of the team's 26 field goals on the afternoon. Saint Joseph's also netted 23 points off 15 Albertus turnovers in the triumph.
Both teams take on conference opponents on the road on Wednesday night, when Saint Joseph's plays at Mount Ida College (6:00 PM) and Albertus Magnus faces off against Anna Maria College (7:00 PM).
With the victory, Saint Joseph's improves to 8-7 in the history of the series with Albertus Magnus College…prior to this afternoon, the Falcons had defeated the Monks in five-consecutive meetings, including an 86-78 result in New Haven earlier this season…for Albertus, winners of three of last four GNAC Championships, the loss is the first regular-season conference setback since falling to Johnson & Wales by a 74-72 score on February 16th, 2013…the Falcons are 58-8 (.879) in GNAC play over the last four seasons, with three of the losses coming at the hands of the Monks…since joining the GNAC before the 2007-08 season, Saint Joseph's (86-34, .717) is the only GNAC team with more conference wins than Albertus (85-35, .708)…for the Falcons, today's losing margin is the largest in a conference game since February 2nd, 2009 when AMC lost to Lasell, 61-39…55 points is the least scored by an Albertus team since March 6th, 2010 when the Falcons suffered an 82-49 loss to DeSales in second round of NCAA Tournament…Blodgett scored the 400th point of his career in the victory.
Saint Joseph's is 14-1 all-time versus Mount Ida College and defeated the Mustangs, 75-47, at the Alfond Center earlier this season (1/15/14)…Mount Ida has dropped eight-consecutive games and is currently 4-15 overall and 2-10 in conference play.
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 430-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.