GNAC TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINAL PREVIEW: #6 Saint Joseph's @ #3 Johnson & Wales

GNAC TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINAL PREVIEW: #6 Saint Joseph's @ #3 Johnson & Wales

STANDISH, Maine – #6 Saint Joseph's College (18-7, 7-4 GNAC) will play at #3 Johnson & Wales University (13-12, 8-3 GNAC) in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament Quarterfinal this evening at 7:00 PM.

OVERVIEW

Tuesday night's victor advances to the semifinal round of the GNAC Tournament and will face the winner of another quarterfinal matchup - #7 University of Saint Joseph /#2 Suffolk University  – on Thursday evening. The higher seed serves as host throughout tourney play.

The other branch of the bracket features quarterfinal contests between #8 Lasell College and #1 Albertus Magnus College and #5 Colby-Sawyer College versus #4 Emmanuel College.

The winner of the GNAC Championship game, which will be played on Saturday, February 23rd, earns an automatic berth into the 2019 NCAA DIII Men's Basketball Championship, which begins on March 1st.

SEASON AT A GLANCE

Saint Joseph's:

  • The Monks completed the 25 game regular season ranked first in the GNAC in field goals made (851), field goal percentage (53.4%), 3PT-made (304), 3PT% (43.4%), total points per game (93.7), fewest personal fouls per game (16.0) and assists per game (22.8)
  • The Monks' four conference losses were by a total of 19 points with three setbacks being by two or fewer points
  • Saint Joseph's is 6-4 on the road this season and finished the docket on a three-game winning streak heading into GNAC postseason play
  • Four of the Monks' five starters are averaging at least 11.6 PPG, with two averaging over 20 PPG
  • The Monks are undefeated when scoring over 100 total points (7-0)

Johnson & Wales:

  • The Wildcats rank second in the GNAC in fewest turnovers per game (12.5), third in steals per game (8.5), sixth in three-point percentage (35.6%), seventh in field-goal percentage (43.9%), free throw percentage (68.6%) and total rebounds per game (37.4), and eighth in assists per game (12.9)
  • Johnson & Wales is 7-4 at home with a 4-1 record in their last five home games
  • Four different JWU players are averaging at least 11.0 PPG with one contributing 23.3 PPG
  • Johnson & Wales has two starters with field goal percentages north of 50%

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Saint Joseph's:

  • (#1) Sophomore guard Jack Casale (Portland, Maine/Cheverus) is averaging 24.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game and leads the conference in three-pointers made (92), ranks second in scoring, third in points (576), defensive rebounds, and field goals made (200), fifth in rebounding average, total rebounds (215), and sixth in three-point percentage (46.2%); he has been selected as the GNAC Player of the Week four times and has registered nine double-doubles this winter
  • (#14) Senior guard Darian Berry (Rochester, N.H.) is averaging 20.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game and ranks fourth in the conference in field goals made (187), points (499) and scoring average and seventh in three-point percentage (45.7%, 64-14); the 2018 First Team All-GNAC honoree joined the Monks' 1,000-Point Club earlier this season
  • (#3) Senior guard Ian Mileikis (Auburn, Maine) enters the tournament averaging 15.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.2 assists and currently ranks second in the GNAC in field-goal percentage (61.5%, 147-239), third in free throws made (93), fourth in assists (104), and fifth in free-throw percentage (83.0%, 93-112); the 2018 Second Team All-GNAC honoree also joined the Monks' 1,000-Point Club this winter

Johnson & Wales:

  • (#10) Junior guard Brian Hogan-Gary (Staten Island, N.Y.) stands first in the conference in field-goals (240-473), defensive rebounds (208), total rebounds (291). Hogan-Gary places second in free throws (98-156), offensive rebounds (83), turnovers (93), steals (66) and points (582). Hogan-Gary is shooting 50.7% from the field and 62.8% from three-point land, averaging 23.3 points per game
  • (#1) Senior forward Randall Ferdinand (Pembroke Pines, Florida) is shooting 55.3% (2nd – GNAC) from the field, 66.7% from beyond the arc while averaging 14.4 points per game
  • (#5) Senior forward Matt Madoian (North Kingstown, R.I.) ranks third in the conference in steals (40) and ninth in blocks (20) while averaging 11.2 points on 36.8% shooting for the Wildcats

ATTITUDE REFLECTS LEADERSHIP:

Saint Joseph's: Rob Sanicola '99 (260-171, .603) – 16th collegiate season

The fourth head coach in SJC men's basketball history, Sanicola was appointed as the program's leader prior to the start of the 2003-04 campaign after having played at St. Joe's for four years (1996-99) and working as an assistant coach, under Rick Simonds, for four seasons. In 23 years as a player, assistant, and head coach at Saint Joseph's, Sanicola has helped the Monks post an impressive 411-211 (.661) overall record.

The three-time GNAC Coach of the Year honoree has led the Monks to 12-consecutive GNAC Tournament appearances, including a GNAC Championship in 2009.

Johnson & Wales: Jamie Benton (243-170, .588) – 15th collegiate season

Benton, hired as the Wildcats' clipboard carrier prior to the start of the 2004-05 campaign, has developed his program into a perennial conference contender. He has guided the Wildcats to three GNAC Championships (2011, 2016, 2018) and led his 2015-16 squad to an appearance in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

Benton was a standout player during his collegiate career at Boston College. He averaged 12.4 PPG. As a senior in 1987-88 during the Eagle's NIT run and was a freshman on the 1985 team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. When he finished his career, he was BC's all-time leader in free throw percentage at 84.6 percent. That record stood for 15 years. Benton played professionally after his tenure at BC ended.

RECENT MEETINGS:

Saint Joseph's defeated Johnson & Wales, 102-94, in the regular season meeting exactly one month ago. The game was a seesaw affair in the early going as the conference counterparts swapped the lead on nine occasions before the Monks took the helm for good – as it played out – with a scoring run starting with a traditional three-point play by sophomore Jack Casale (Portland, Maine/Cheverus) 7:16 before the break.

Trailing 30-29 after JWU senior forward Matt Madoian (North Kingstown, R.I.) hit a jump shot, Casale's layup and foul shot ignited the Monks' offense to the tune of a 28-10 tally, a run that propelled the visitors to an 18-point (57-39) advantage heading into halftime.

Saint Joseph's led by a game-high 20 points (67-47) after Casale converted a fast-break layup, but the Wildcats methodically climbed back into contention and, after posting a 19-7 surge spanning nearly five minutes, cut their deficit down to six points (93-87) with four minutes remaining.

With the hosts threatening, the Monks slowed the pace and held off the Wildcats with the help of a 5-for-6 free-throw shooting performance in the closing three minutes.

Casale paced the Monks with 37 points on 12-for-18 shooting and added nine boards and three assists while Berry netted 26 on 13-for-18 shooting in the victory. Sophomore guard Justin Bullock (Spring Valley, N.Y.) led the Wildcats with 25 points while Hogan-Gary added 20 points and nine caroms in the setback.

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING:

With the win last month, Saint Joseph's improved to 11-14 all-time versus the Wildcats. Prior to the January 19th matchup, JWU had defeated SJC in nine of the previous 10 meetings. For the Monks, the win over the Wildcats in Providence was the team's first since January 21st, 2012.

Saint Joseph's is the only NCAA DIII team to score 100 points against Johnson & Wales this season – Brown University (DI) topped the Wildcats by a 100-61 score on January 14th. Saint Joseph's was the first GNAC team to score 100 points against the Wildcats since Albertus Magnus defeated JWU by the exact 102-94 score on February 13, 2016.

 

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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.