STANDISH, Maine – Bowdoin College (3-0) outlasted Saint Joseph's College (0-2), 75-69, with the help of an 87.5% (21-24) free-throw shooting effort in a non-conference men's basketball contest at the Harold Alfond Center on Saturday afternoon. Senior guard Steve Simonds (Steep Falls, Maine) netted a game-high 29 points with eight rebounds and was 7-14 from three-point distance in a losing effort.
The Polar Bears managed to hold off a persistent Saint Joseph's team by making nine of 10 shots from the free throw line in the closing 30 seconds. The Monks maintained a two-possession deficit until the very end, but ultimately ran out of time in what amounted to a thrilling home opener for the hosts.
The Monks led for the better part of the first half and, with the help of seven three-pointers, owned a 23-17 cushion after junior Jerome Diggs (Washington, D.C.) connected on his only trifecta of the day with 8:19 before the break.
The Polar Bears responded with a 10-0 run, with senior Keegan Pieri (Camden, Maine) and junior Lucas Hausman (Westport, Conn.) scoring five points apiece, over the following 2:16 minutes to secure a 27-23 lead. Saint Joseph's cut the deficit down to 31-30 after Simonds drained a three-pointer at the 3:52 mark, but Bowdoin closed out the first half with an 8-2 outburst and carried a 39-32 advantage going into intermission.
Simonds led all first-half scorers with 14 points while Hausman paced the Polar Bears with 11 points in the opening 20 minutes.
Trailing 55-46 with 10:17 remaining, Saint Joseph's mounted an impressive 13-4 run, an offensive surge closed out with a traditional three-point play from senior forward Zach Blodgett (Glenburn, Maine) less than six minutes later. Bowdoin senior John Swords (Sudbury, Mass.), a 7'0" center, answered in kind with a three-point play of his own on the Polar Bears' subsequent trip down the floor and SJC junior guard Craig Luschenat (Boston, Mass.) dropped a three-pointer to knot the contest yet again, 62-62, with 2:55 left.
Bowdoin countered with five unanswered points with buckets from Matt Palecki (Southborough, Mass.) and Swords and a Bryan Hurley (Watertown, Mass.) freebie to stake a 67-62 cushion with 32 seconds on the clock. Simonds knocked down a jumper in the paint 12 seconds later and Diggs offset a pair of Hausman free throws to make it a 69-66 contest with 18 seconds to play. The Polar Bears essentially iced the game with four freebies from Hurley and a pair from Pieri, a 6-6 effort from the line that doubled a Luschenat three-pointer – his fifth of the day – in the closing seconds.
Saint Joseph's shot 44.6% (25-56) overall, 44.4% (16-36) from three-point land, and 50% (3-6) from the FT line while Bowdoin shot 44.2% (23-52) from the floor, 36.4% (8-22) from downtown, and 87.5% (21-24) from the charity stripe in the triumph.
For the Monks, Luschenat netted a career-high 15 points while making five of eight three-point attempts, Blodgett added 14 points and a pair of steals, and Diggs tallied seven points, eight assists and five rebounds.
For the Polar Bears, Hausman totaled 19 points, Palecki recorded 13 points and five caroms, Swords posted a double-double with 11 points and 11 boards, and Pieri came off the bench to score 11 with six rebounds.
Saint Joseph's is set to host Maine-Farmington on Monday night at 7:30 PM while Bowdoin travels to University of New England on Tuesday for a 7:30 PM tip-off.
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.