WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — First-year Head Coach Jim Calhoun, and the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's basketball team continue to impress, winning their third straight game to kick off their inaugural season, 99-78, over the Green Mountain College (GMC) Eagles on Saturday evening.
Fans once again sold out the O'Connell Athletic Center to see just what the Blue Jays (3-0) would do next. They were treated to a show from sophomore center Mike Sagay (Bloomfield, Conn.) and freshman guard Chris Childs (Bronx, N.Y.), who got pretty much anything they wanted inside and out. The duo combined for 61 of St. Joe's 99 points (21-33 FG, 8-14 3FG). Sagay set the benchmark for most points in a game with 36. He also grabbed nine rebounds. Childs recorded his second-straight 25-point game. Sophomore guard Tyrell Johnson (Bronx, N.Y.) led the Eagles (2-1) with 15 points (11-14 FT).
Sagay got the Blue Jays going early, forcing two steals, and scoring in a variety of ways; hard drives to the hoop, put-backs and several and-ones. USJ as a team was very aggressive, either getting their hands in the passing lanes, or just cutting hard to the hole. This forced four early fouls on the Eagles in the first four minutes. Childs went coast-to-coast for a lay-up, and tacked on two free-throws after being fouled on a jump shot. Sagay followed it up with his second and-one, another steal, and all of a sudden, the USJ lead had ballooned to 14 (21-7) with 11:58 left in the first half.
The Eagles respond with a 9-4 run, led by freshman forward Damon Ballantyne (Mandurah, Australia), and junior center Paul Oha (Antioch, Calif.), who scored while being fouled on a put-back.
Sagay countered with a corner three, and along with six first-half points from freshman guard Tahj Brown (Bridgeport, Conn), the lead continued to grow. USJ got a little sloppy offensively, including several turnovers, but remained in control, as GMC already had 10 team fouls with nearly eight minutes still to go.
The lead grew to 18 after a Childs three (one of many), the start of a 14-3 run in less than three minutes. If you blinked, you may have missed it, as USJ took a 45-21 lead with a little more than four minutes left. Childs launched bombs and connected from all around the perimeter, working to get open by moving quickly and efficiently without the ball.
Freshman guard Brad Landry (Wallingford, Conn.) also got involved on both ends. He did a great job denying the ball on defense to close the half, and hit a three from the wing.
Sagay scored 22 of his 36 in the first half on 8-for-11 shooting (2-4 3FG), to go along with seven rebounds and those three steals. Childs meanwhile was 4-for-7 from the field, 6-for-6 from the line, and nailed two triples, good for 16 in the first half. Sagay and Childs combined for 38, more than GMC scored as a team (32).
USJ came out of the locker room still with a full head of steam. Sagay pinning a ball off the backboard for a block, while freshman forward Noreaga Davis (Bridgeport, Conn.), who struggled in the first half, came out with an and-one of his own. Childs chipped in back-to-back threes, and the Blue Jays put the Eagles away for good, doubling them up 64-32 with still 17:34 to go in the second half.
Then Sagay did what Sagay does; another vicious tomahawk slam just minutes later—the exclamation point on a game that was all Blue Jays. USJ has won all three of it's games this year by an average of 13 points.
Saint Joe's will play in their first-ever away game Tuesday, November 20th, at 5:00 p.m. against Dean College. Green Mountain will go back on the road again Wednesday, November 28th, against Northern Vermont University at 5:30 p.m.