STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's (12-8, 11-2 GNAC) held off Rivier University (7-14, 4-10 GNAC), 56-50, in a closely-contest GNAC men's basketball game at the Alfond Center on Saturday afternoon. Junior Zach Blodgett (Glenburn, Maine) netted a game-high 17 points in the triumph.
The Monks held the lead for the vast majority of play, but would not enjoy a double-digit advantage in the victory as the visiting Raiders maintained a two-possession deficit for most of the afternoon. The game was not decided until the hosts scored four unanswered points in the final 15 seconds, as Blodgett converted a layup on a nice drive to the bucket and Matthew Medeiros (Westport, Mass.) sank a pair of free throws to clinch the narrow win.
Saint Joseph's closed the first half on a nice scoring surge, as Medeiros capped an 8-4 run with a nifty tip-in off a Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, Maine) miss as time expired to lift the hosts to a 33-26 cushion going into intermission. The Monks started the second stanza with a Jobin layup off a Jordan Tripp (Maspeth, N.Y.) feed to gain a 35-26 advantage, but the nine-point lead would be the game's largest, as the Raiders mounted a 10-2 outburst over the five minutes to cut their deficit down to 37-36. Senior forward Tom Poitras (Bow, N.H.) knocked down a three-pointer at the 14:52 mark to close out the run.
For Saint Joseph's fans, the remainder of the contest was tenuous at best, as the Raiders stayed within striking distance despite the Monks' tendency to sustain a narrow lead. Rivier trailed by two points on a pair of occasions late in the contest, but Saint Joseph's answered with layups both times, including the aforementioned Blodgett bucket which was scored with 12 seconds left.
Four players netted at least 10 points for the Monks in the victory, as Medeiros and Jobin scored 13 apiece and Steve Simonds (Steep Falls, Maine) contributed 10 points to join Blodgett on the hosts' top scorers list. Tripp played well with five rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals and senior forward James Philbrook (Auburn, Maine) added four rebounds on the afternoon.
For Rivier, Poitras scored 15 with six boards and four steals, Nick Walch (Dedham, Mass.) tallied 10 points, four rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals, and Jake Nelson (Nashua, N.H.) contributed seven points and five caroms in a losing effort.
Saint Joseph's shot 39.6% (19-48) from the floor, 23.8% (5-21) from three-point distance, and 68.4% (13-19) from the free throw line while Rivier posted percentages of 40.4% (19-47), 10.5% (2-19) and 83.3% (10-12) from the field, downtown and the FT line in the conference contest.
Both teams return to the hardwood with contests versus GNAC foes on Tuesday evening when Saint Joseph's plays at Emmanuel College at 7:00 PM and Rivier hosts Norwich University in a 7:30 PM tip-off.
Saint Joseph's is now 12-3 in the history of the series with Rivier University…including a 96-87 win over Rivier earlier this season, the Monks have defeated the Raiders in 11-consecutive meetings dating back to the 2008-09 campaign…Blodgett surpassed the 400-point plateau for his career in the victory and now has 413 points through 69 contests.
Saint Joseph's is 12-2 all-time against Emmanuel College and defeated the Saints, 72-70, at home on January 29th…the Saints are 4-17 overall and 2-12 in GNAC play so far this season and fell to Johnson & Wales by an 89-66 margin earlier today.
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.