WESTON, Mass. – In a game featuring a lot of up-and-down action as well as seven ties and 13 lead changes, Regis College was unable to convert on its final possession, as Saint Joseph's College held on for an 88-87 victory Thursday evening in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference men's basketball game at Higgins Court.
With the victory, the Monks have clinched a spot in the GNAC Tournament, which begins with quarterfinal play on Tuesday. The complete tournament bracket will be announced Saturday evening after the final games of the regular season are finished.
Ademola Afonja (Staten Island, N.Y.) notched his 19th career double-double, including his third of the season, leading the Pride with 21 points and 10 rebounds, as he shot 10-of-14 from the field. Dimitri Rosa (Tiverton, R.I.) hit 5-of-6 shots from behind the three-point line to finish with 15 points along with five assists and four steals, Juvens Dalger (City of Sunrise, Fla.) collected 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals, and Jordan Seldon (Dorchester, Mass.) added 12 points, four rebounds, and four assists.
Seldon scored the first four points in the opening minute of the game, but a three-pointer by Tatsuaki Sakai and a traditional three-point play by Jack Casale allowed the Monks to pull ahead, 8-7. After a layup by Darian Berry, Rosa hit a three-pointer and Marc Trinidad (Bronx, N.Y.) made a layup to give Regis an 18-15 advantage, but that was erased quickly by three-pointers from Ian Mileikis and Berry.
After a layup by Afonja, Saint Joseph's went on a 9-1 scoring run to pull ahead by nine midway through the first half. Down 39-31, Regis scored 13 unanswered points, led by two three-pointers from Rosa, to pull ahead, 44-39, with 5:26 remaining in the first half. After a layup by Mileikis closed the Monk deficit to one at 47-46, Devante Thompson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) hit a three-pointer and Dalger made consecutive layups to extend the Pride lead back to eight at 54-46.
Saint Joseph's (17-7, 7-4 GNAC) scored the final five points of the first half on a layup by Jack Hostetler and a Sakai three-pointer, and then Sakai hit another three-pointer early in the second half to tie the game at 54-54. A jumper by Shawn Wedderburn (Bronx, N.Y.) put the Pride on top, 61-60, but the Monks responded with seven straight points, capped by a layup from David Keohan to gain the lead, 68-62, with 11:22 remaining in regulation.
After a three-pointer by Casale put the Monks on top, 74-66, Regis scored the next six points, but Saint Joseph's was able to keep the lead thanks to baskets by Berry and Mileikis. Three-pointers from Casale and Hostetler as well as a layup by Berry helped extend the Monk advantage into double digits at 86-76 with 4:23 left in the second half.
The Pride rallied back, scoring nine unanswered points, bookended by jumpers from Josh Germain (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), who also led the team with nine assists. Casale made two free throws to give the Monks a three-point lead, but Afonja was able to convert a putback with 1:02 left in regulation to cut the Regis deficit back to one.
Saint Joseph's missed a shot on its next possession, but Regis could not take advantage as it committed a turnover. Casale was fouled, but missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Afonja grabbed the rebound. After calling timeout with 8.2 seconds showing on the clock, the Pride ran a play, but an offensive foul was called with 4.4 seconds left. The Monks were able to inbound the ball and pass it around, running out the rest of the time to clinch the victory.
Casale shot 11-of-15 from the field, including 4-of-6 from behind the three-point line, and 5-of-6 from the free throw line as he led the Monks with 31 points. Berry finished with 16 points, a team-high nine rebounds, three assists, and two steals, and Sakai added 15 points, four rebounds, nine assists, and two steals.
As a team, the Monks shot 49.3 percent (33-of-67) from the field, including 15-of-34 from behind the three-point line, and 77.8 percent (7-of-9) from the free throw line. Saint Joseph's scored 24 points off 21 Regis turnovers. The Monks conclude the regular season with a non-conference game at home against Colby-Sawyer Saturday, Feb. 16, at 3 p.m.
The Pride shot 55.2 percent (37-of-67) from the field, including a season-best 69.2 percent (9-of-13) from behind the three-point line. However, Regis let several free chances slip away, missing seven free throw attempts. The Pride won the rebounding battle, 39-29, scored 23 points off 17 Monk turnovers, and finished with 26 assists, as did the Monks.
Regis (9-15, 4-6 GNAC) travels to West Hartford, Conn., to face University of St. Joseph Saturday, Feb. 16, starting at 1 p.m. The winner will clinch a spot in next week's GNAC Tournament.
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