WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's basketball team controlled the second half on the shoulders of another double-double from freshman forward Noreaga Davis (Bridgeport, Conn.) to knock off the Lasell College (LC) Lasers and secure its first-ever Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) win, 82-67, inside the O'Connell Athletic Center Thursday night.
The Blue Jays (10-8, 1-3 GNAC) snap a three-game losing streak to start conference play, while the Lasers (4-11, 2-1 GNAC) have lost four of their last six. Davis led Saint Joe's with another solid all-around performance, good for his third double-double of the season (20 PTS, 10 REBS, 6 ASTS), while sophomore guard Kevin Nunez (Dorchester, Mass.) had a game-high 29 points and 15 rebounds for the Lasers, despite standing just six-foot one. Freshman guard Chris Childs (Bronx, N.Y.) scored 15 points off the bench for USJ.
USJ raced out to a 9-0 lead in the first three minutes, as sophomore center Mike Sagay (Bloomfield, Conn.) got things going with a pair of free throws. He would later drill a three from deep, and layups from freshman forward Jake Sullivan (Branford, Conn.) and freshman guard Delshawn Jackson Jr. (Hartford, Conn.) were sandwiched in between.
LC responded with a 14-2 run. Junior guard Stefan Masciarelli (Northbridge, Mass.) scored five quick points, then Nunez got hot, finding ways to get open and scoring the next nine. All of a sudden, the Lasers led 14-11, with 11:24 to go in the first half.
Both teams traded buckets back and forth the rest of the first half. Davis made the extra effort plays, doing whatever it would take to get a rebound, before putting it up and scoring. Childs also came in and had his mid-range game going early, knocking in two jumpers, and giving USJ a 28-22 lead with 3:22 to play. The Lasers came right back again, closing the half with six straight points, the Blue Jays unable to get another point on the board going into the locker room. Senior guard Joe O'Brien (Saugus, Mass.) sank a huge three, Masciarelli made two more free throws, and Nunez split a pair at the line to tie it up, 28-28, at the half.
The Blue Jays opened the second half with a full head of steam. A 9-0 run swung the momentum. Davis converted on an and-one on a pass from Sagay, and finished another lay-in inside. Jackson Jr. and Childs kept their mid-range jumper locked in, and with just under 16 minutes to go, the Blue Jays held their largest lead of the game once again, 37-28.
Nunez and Masciarelli did what they could to turn things around, making shots inside and out, while complimenting other teammates with finds for easy baskets. A three from Masciarelli cut the gap to five, 49-44 with 11:59 left in the game. That would be the closest LC would get. Childs answered right back with a three of his own, the start of an 18-5 run over the next seven minutes. Four players scored for the Blue Jays during the run, building the lead to 18 with four minutes left. USJ would maintain their double-digit lead with discipline on both ends until the final buzzer.
USJ will look to make it back-to-back GNAC wins when they host Norwich (VT) Saturday, January 19, at 1:00 p.m. inside the O'Connell Center, on the campus of USJ. Lasell will finish their three-game road trip at Regis (MA), also Saturday at 1:00 p.m.