GNAC TOURNAMENT SEMIFINAL PREVIEW: #7 University of Saint Joseph @ #6 Saint Joseph's

GNAC TOURNAMENT SEMIFINAL PREVIEW: #7 University of Saint Joseph @ #6 Saint Joseph's

STANDISH, Maine – #6 Saint Joseph's College (19-7, 8-4 GNAC) will host #7 University of Saint Joseph's (CT) (15-11, 5-6 GNAC) in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament Semifinal on Thursday at 7:00 PM at the Harold Alfond Center Gymnasium.

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Both teams posted upset victories on the road in the quarterfinal round on Tuesday night, as Saint Joseph's topped #3 Johnson & Wales University, 83-80, and University of Saint Joseph stunned second-seeded Suffolk University, 95-84.

In the win over Johnson & Wales, the Monks lead by as many as 22 points but the Wildcats surged back late and cut the SJC advantage down to 80-78 with 1:35 remaining. St. Joe's managed to hang on with a 3-for-4 effort from the line to down the hosts and advance to the semifinal round for the first time since 2015.

Senior guard Darian Berry (Rochester, N.H.) paced the Royal Blue with 25 points and pulled down eight boards and sophomore guard Jack Casale (Portland, Maine/Cheverus) notched his 10th double-double of the year with 20 points and 12 caroms in the victory.

University of Saint Joseph – in its first year as a co-educational institution after being a women's only school previously - picked up the first men's team postseason win in USJ Athletics history after fighting through 14 tie scores and 14 lead changes at Suffolk. Leading 70-69 with 5:34 remaining, the Blue Jays recorded a 23-12 run over the following five minutes – a span during which the Rams made just three field goals – to gain a 93-81 cushion with 40 seconds left.

Freshman guard Delshawn Jackson (Hartford, Conn.) was 11-for-18 from the floor with 24 points and freshman guard Chris Childs (Bronx, N.Y.) added 22 points with the help of a 7-for-7 FT shooting effort.

OVERVIEW

Tonight's victor advances to the GNAC Championship and will face the winner of another semifinal matchup - #4 Emmanuel College  /#1 Albertus Magnus College – on Saturday. The higher seed serves as host throughout tourney play.

The winner of the GNAC Championship game earns an automatic berth into the 2019 NCAA DIII Men's Basketball Championship, which begins on March 1st.

Tuesday, February 19 - Quarterfinals

Game 1: #1 Albertus Magnus 99, #8 Lasell 79

Game 2: #4 Emmanuel 90, #5 Colby-Sawyer 83

Game 3: #6 Saint Joseph's 83, #3 JWU 80

Game 4: #7 University of Saint Joseph 95, #2 Suffolk 84

Thursday, February 21 - Semifinals (at higher seeds)

Game 5: #4 Emmanuel at #1 Albertus Magnus – 7:00 PM

Game 6: #7 University of Saint Joseph at #6 Saint Joseph's – 7:00 PM

Saturday, February 23 - Championship

Game 7: at highest remaining seed

SEASON AT A GLANCE

Saint Joseph's:

  • The Monks currently rank as the GNAC leader in points (2,426), points per game (93.3), field goals made per game (33.9), field goal percentage (53.4%), three-pointers made (12.3) and attempted (28.2) per game, three-point percentage (43.5%), assists per game (22.3), and fewest personal fouls per game (16.0)
  • Saint Joseph's is 11-2 at home and is currently riding a four-game winning streak
  • Four of the Monks' five starters are averaging at least 11.5 PPG, with two averaging over 20 PPG
  • Four of the Monks' setbacks have been by five or fewer points, including three GNAC losses
  • The Monks 17-3 when shooting 50% or higher from the field, 12-1 when scoring 95 or more points, and 9-2 when making at least 14 three-pointers

University of Saint Joseph:

  • The Blue Jays lead the conference in rebounding average (44.9), opponents' field goal percentage (40.9%), and opponents' three-point FG percentage (32.8%) and rank second in three-point FG percentage (41.0%), free throw attempts per game (25.3), offensive rebounds per game (14.7), rebound margin per game (8.8), assists per game (16.0), and blocks per game (4.0)
  • Seven of the Blue Jay's losses have been by five or fewer points, including five GNAC setbacks
  • Four of the five starters for the Blue Jays average 10.1 or more points per game
  • University of Saint Joseph is 10-0 when shooting at least 45.5% from the floor, 7-2 when scoring 95 or more points, and 7-3 when making 10 or more three-pointers

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Saint Joseph's:

  • (#1) Sophomore guard Jack Casale (Portland, Maine/Cheverus) is averaging 23.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game and leads the conference in three-pointers made (97), ranks second in scoring and defensive rebounds (202), third in points (596) and field goals made (207), and fifth in rebounding average, total rebounds (227) and three-point percentage (46.2%); he has been selected as the GNAC Player of the Week four times and has registered 10 double-doubles this winter
  • (#14) Senior guard Darian Berry (Rochester, N.H.) is averaging 20.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game and ranks fourth in the conference in field goals made (197), points (524) and scoring average and sixth in three-point percentage (45.3%, 68-150); 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 tonight's contest averaging 15.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.0 assists and currently ranks second in the GNAC in field-goal percentage (62.2%, 153-246), fourth in free throws made (96), fifth in assists (105), and sixth in free-throw percentage (82.1%, 96-117); the 2018 Second Team All-GNAC honoree also joined the Monks' 1,000-Point Club this winter

University of Saint Joseph:

  • (#30) Freshman guard Chris Childs (Bronx, N.Y.) is currently averaging 18.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game; the three-time GNAC Rookie of the Week honoree ranks second in the GNAC in three-pointers made (81), third in three-point percentage (50.9%), fourth in free-throw percentage (84.0, 79-94), and sixth in points (462) and points per game
  •  (#01) Freshman guard Delshawn Jackson Jr. (Hartford, Conn) – also a three-time GNAC Rookie of the Week recipient - averages 16.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per tilt and ranks second in the conference in free throws made (102), third in steals (40), and fourth in assists (106)
  • (#0) Freshman guard Ryan O'Neil (Litchfield, Conn.) contributes 10.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per contest and is 11th in the conference in free-throw percentage (77.1, 54-70)

ATTITUDE REFLECTS LEADERSHIP:

Saint Joseph's: Rob Sanicola '99 (261-171, .604) – 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.

University of Saint Joseph: Jim Calhoun (888-391, .694) – 40th collegiate season

After retiring from coaching nearly six years ago, three-time National Champion and Basketball Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun made his return to Connecticut basketball, becoming the first-ever head men's basketball coach at the University of Saint Joseph, as officially announced by the institution in September of 2018.

Calhoun's record in 40 years as a head coach stands at 873-380 going into the 2018-2019 season, which ranks sixth on the all-time Division I men's basketball wins list, while his 1,253 games coached is third all-time. He posted a 625-243 record at UConn, by far the school's winningest coach. Calhoun is 311-183 in BIG EAST competition, second in all-time wins, and his 35-19 record in the BIG EAST tourney ranks second all-time. Calhoun has eight 30-win seasons, third all-time, and he ranks sixth all-time with 25 20-win seasons. Calhoun is also fourth all-time with 49 NCAA Tournament wins (49-18). His overall national postseason record is 62-20 with four championships (3 NCAA, 1 NIT).

THE LAST TIME WE MET:

SJC defeated USJ, 98-87, in the first-ever meeting between the institutions' men's basketball programs at the Harold Alfond Center on January 12th.

The Monks trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half and headed into intermission trailing 52-40, but opened the second stanza with a 16-3 run, which was capped by a Mileikis three-pointer and the hosts ahead, 56-55, four minutes into the final frame.

The conference counterparts swapped the lead six times over the following 10 minutes with the Monks claiming the advantage for good, as it played out, when Mileikis made a layup to make it a 75-74 game with 6:29 remaining.

The Blue Jays remained within two possessions and trailed by three points (86-83) after freshman forward Noreaga Davis (Bridgeport, Conn.) converted a layup with 3:07 left. But the Monks scored six unanswered points in a matter of 70 seconds to claim a 92-83 advantage and ultimately put the game out of reach.

Mileikis notched the fourth triple-double in program history with 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists and Casale was 5-for-9 from three-point distance with 26 points and seven rebounds in the triumph.

Jackson was 7-for-11 from downtown with 32 points, four rebounds, four assists, and three steals for the Blue Jays.

GNAC TOURNAMENT HISTORY:

The Monks have not missed the GNAC Tournament in 12 seasons as a member of the conference and have won at least one postseason contest in eight of the last ten trips. Saint Joseph's is 12-9 in GNAC tourney play with a GNAC Championship in 2009 and appearances in the title game in 2011 and 2014.

 

#GOMONKS

 

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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.