LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Occidental College (4-3) overcame a 19-point deficit midway through the second half to edge Saint Joseph's College (4-4), 50-48, in NCAA DIII Men's Basketball action on Wednesday. Freshman forward Quinn Richardson-Newton (Saco, Maine) scored a game-high 12 points in the losing effort.
Occidental, which started the contest with a 3-24 effort from the field and posted a paltry 25.4% (15-59) effort overall, posted a 14-3 run around the 10-minute mark of the second half to crawl back into the game. The host Tigers claimed their only lead of the contest when it truly mattered, as senior guard Juwan Rice (Louisville, Ky.) rejected a Jordan Tripp (Queens, N.Y.) shot and sent a pass ahead to sophomore forward Andrew Johnson (Los Angeles, Calif.), who finished the play with a breakaway layup for the game-winning hoop.
The Monks, who capped their two-game West Coast trip with today's contest, held a 22-11 halftime lead and extended their advantage to 19 points on the heels of a 10-2 run to open the second stanza. Senior guard Steve Simonds (Steep Falls, Maine) capped the surge with a layup to lift the visitors to a 32-13 cushion with 13:48 remaining.
The aforementioned Occidental run followed shortly thereafter, as an Austin Hawk (Simi Valley, Calif.) three-pointer closed out the 14-3 outbreak and cut the hosts' deficit down to 37-29 with 10:47 left to play.
Simonds made a three of his own with 4:18 on the clock to make it a 46-36 game, but the bucket turned out to be the Monks' last of the day as the Royal Blue managed to make just a pair of free throws over the final four-plus minutes. In the meantime, Occidental methodically chipped away at the deficit and tied the game at 48-all when sophomore forward Taylor Walton (San Anselmo, Calif.) made a layup with 41 seconds remaining.
For Saint Joseph's, senior forward Zach Blodgett (Glenburn, Maine) scored 10 points, junior guard Craig Luschenat (Boston, Mass.) netted nine with six rebounds, and Simonds added seven points with eight rebounds.
Johnson, Rice and Hawk scored 10 points apiece to lead Occidental while Walton pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds to help lead the Tigers to victory.
Occidental scored 18 points off 20 Saint Joseph's turnovers and owned a 39-30 advantage on the glass on the afternoon.
Prior to today, Saint Joseph's had not suffered a loss when the opponent shot less than 35% since Eastern Connecticut shot 34.4% from the floor in a 64-59 win over the Monks on November 19th, 2004. St. Joe's owns a 43-2 record when foes post a field goal percentage below 35%. The Tigers' 25.4% rate counts as the fifth-lowest since Head Coach Rob Sanicola '99 took the reins in the fall of 2003.
The Monks return to action with a home contest versus conference-rival Mount Ida College on Tuesday, January 6th. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 PM.
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.