STANDISH, Maine – Saint Joseph's College (2-2) held off a late rally to defeat University of Southern Maine (1-4), 59-53, in a non-conference men's basketball contest at the Harold Alfond Center on Sunday night.
Junior guard Ian Mileikis (Auburn, Maine) tallied 11 points, six rebounds, five assists, and a pair of steals and Darian Berry (Rochester, N.H.) added 11 points and eight boards to help hold off Southern Maine, which saw a run midway through the second half fall short in a six-point victory for the Monks.
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Junior forward Jae Johns (Lindenhurst, N.Y.) scored two of his 10 points with a layup at the 12:58 mark of the second half to extend his team's lead to a game-high 20 points, 49-29, but Southern Maine countered with a furious comeback effort spanning nine minutes and cutting the SJC lead to just three points in the process.
With the SJC offense struggling – the Royal Blue committed six turnovers while shooting 2-10 from the floor – USM mounted a 21-4 run to cut the Monks' cushion down to 53-50 with 3:16 on the clock. USM junior guard Mark Borgeson (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) closed out the surge with five straight points.
Leading 55-52 with 1:34 remaining, sophomore guard Mario Nery (Bronx, N.Y.) hit a wide-open three pointer from the top of the key to extend the Monks' lead to six points with 1:34 remaining. The in-state rivals managed to net a single free-throw apiece in closing 90 seconds to account for the 59-53 final.
With the victory, Saint Joseph's reclaims possession of the Costello Cup, which is presented annually to the winner of the contest between the rivals and honors the late Dr. Richard "Doc" Costello, former USM Athletic Director and long-time basketball coach.
Entering tonight's game, the Huskies had earned the right to hoist the cup in three of the last four seasons, including last winter when USM tipped SJC by a 74-72 score in Gorham.
The Monks are now 17-12 in the history of the Costello Cup series, which begin during the 1989-90 campaign.
LEADERS – SAINT JOSEPH'S:
- Nery added eight points with four boards, two assists, and a pair of steals
- Johns contributed 10 points with four rebounds and was perfect (5-5) from the field
- Senior forward Aaron Hall (Haverhill, Mass.) chipped in with six points and seven boards
LEADERS – SOUTHERN MAINE:
- Senior guard Christian McCue (Hampden, Maine) netted 13 points while shooting 4-5 from the field, 2-3 from beyond the arc, and 3-3 from the FT line
- Freshman guard DJ Anderson (Houston, Texas) came off the bench to contribute seven points and seven rebounds
Saint Joseph's maintained the lead in rebounds (38-29), assists (16-12), points off turnovers (15-11), and points in the paint (32-12) in the victory.
Saint Joseph's kicks off Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) play next Saturday when the team travels to Boston for a 3:00 PM contest at Suffolk University.
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 474-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.