DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's basketball team fell to the LaGrange College (LC) Panthers, 68-63, in its opening game of the Daytona Beach Shootout on Wednesday night inside the Ocean Center. With the setback, the Blue Jays drop to 6-4 on the season while the Panthers improve to 6-3.
Freshman Delshawn Jackson Jr. (Hartford, Conn.) led the Blue Jays and matched his season-high with 16 points to go with seven rebounds, while classmate Brad Landry (Wallingford, Conn.) had his best performance of the season, finishing with a season-high 11 points. Landry hit 3-of-4 key shots from beyond the arc, including two huge ones in the second half to keep USJ within striking distance. Sophomore Mike Sagay (Bloomfield, Conn.) chipped in with 11 points and eight boards.
Seniors Jamison McCray (Dothan, Ala.) and Jalen McCallum (Greenville, N.C.) powered the Panthers to victory, combining for 39 points and 27 rebounds. McCray had his first career double-double, finishing with a season-high 25 points along with a game and career-high 14 rebounds. McCallum, a Danbury, Conn. native and transfer from Eastern Connecticut, recorded his third double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 boards and added a game-high six blocks.
The Panthers jumped out to an early advantage before Landry gave the Blue Jays their first lead of the evening, 11-9, after drilling his first three of the game with 13:19 left in the first half. It ignited USJ, who really played a tenacious 40 minutes with increased intensity both on the offensive and defensive end against a very athletic LaGrange squad under eighth-year head coach Kendal Wallace.
LaGrange fought back and kept things close as LC's senior captain Elijah Adedoyin (Orlando, Fla.) tied the game, 16-16, with a three from the top of the key with 8:53 to go before the break. However, Saint Joseph responded with a quick 7-0 run over the ensuing 1:47 to go up 23-16 and the Blue Jays would never trail again for the remainder of the first half as they took a 26-23 edge heading into the intermission.
Jackson Jr. led all scorers at the break with seven points and four rebounds and Sagay was right behind him with six points.
LaGrange, led by McCray, came out of the break with fire as McCray scored the first nine points of the second half for the Panthers, but the Blue Jays stayed right with them and only trailed by two, 32-30, with 16:52 left in regulation.
The intensity was at an all-time high and fans were treated to an exciting, back-and-forth affair in the second half which featured five lead changes, but LC would pull away for good with just under seven minutes to play. After a corner jumper from freshman guard Cameron Sells (Ansonia, Conn.) put USJ up 44-41, the Panthers went on to rattle off seven straight points, behind four from McCallum, to take a 48-44 lead and they would never trail again.
Landry did everything he could to give the Blue Jays life, hitting another clutch three to pull Saint Joseph within one, 48-47, with six minutes left, but the LC senior combo of McCallum and McCray was too much down the stretch to derail a USJ comeback attempt. McCray poured in 20 of his game-high 25 points and five of McCallum's six blocks came in the second stanza as the Panthers held on for the 68-63 victory.
USJ shot 30.2% (19-63) from the field and 37.5% (6-16) from three, while LaGrange hit for 33.9% (21-62) from the floor and 18.2% (4-22) from distance. Both teams were even on the glass with 46 rebounds apiece.
USJ has a quick turnaround and will look to bounce back tomorrow night inside the Ocean Center in their final game of the Daytona Beach Shootout when they face off against Rockford College. Tip-off is slated for 5:00 p.m.