WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — It was the best performance across the board for the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's basketball team, who turned a neck-and-neck battle with Salve Regina University (SRU) into a double-digit dub, defeating the Seahawks 94-80 inside a packed O'Connell Center.
Career nights for junior forward Jordan Powell (Middletown, Conn.) and sophomore guard Tyree Mitchell (East Hartford, Conn.) catapulted the Blue Jays to victory. The score itself is not indicative of the game played on Tuesday night. There were 11 ties and 12 lead changes. Neither team took a double-digit lead through the first 30 minutes.
The Seahawks did all they could to keep it a one-possession game. Time and time again, sophomore forward Mikey Spencer (Abington, Mass.) delivered, dropping a game and season-high 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting (5-7 3FG). He also led all players with eight rebounds. Junior guard Kevin Kelly (Valhalla, N.Y.) had a well-rounded performance for SRU (16 PTS, 8 AST, 7 REB, 3 STL). The Blue Jays meanwhile made as many threes in the first four and a half minutes Tuesday that they had made in a game all season, shooting 4-for-5 from deep against Seahawk Head Coach, Sean Foster's 3-2 zone. SRU played man pretty much the rest of the way.
Powell finished with a career-high 24 points on an immaculate 12-of-16 from the floor. Mitchell had 16 on 6-of-8, including three and-ones. The Blue Jays took over midway through the second half, igniting the crowd with a 15-0 run to turn a one-point lead into a blowout.
Score: Saint Joseph 94, Salve Regina 80
Records: USJ (2-2), SRU (1-4)
Location: O'Connell Center | West Hartford, Conn.
PLAYER QUOTE [Jordan Powell]
"It's a really big blessing [to play here]. I know there are guys that would kill to be in my situation. I am very humbled to be here, and I've got to take advantage of the geniuses that I am learning from."
COACH QUOTE [Glen Miller]
"It took a while, but I think the sum of the man-to-man pressure on the ball, and we started switching a lot of their actions in the second half, I think that bothered them. It was really our defensive execution in the second half, our ability to get stops, and get out and run that we were finally able to separate ourselves."
- USJ opened up a 14-7 lead with 15:07 to go in the first half on a barrage of three-point bombs from a flock of Blue Jays, including sophomore point guard Delshawn Jackson Jr. (Hartford, Conn.), who had a pair of them.
- The Seahawks answered right back as junior co-captain Cameron Collins (Oakdale, Conn.) sparked the run with a pair of smooth finishes inside. Just like that, the game was tied again, 14-14.
- Neither team could pull away as the half waged on. Mitchell got one of his three and-ones to close the half to give Saint Joseph a slim 43-40 lead into the locker room.
- Both teams traded buckets again as the second half carried on. USJ's lead was 61-60 with 11:30 to play. It was here that the run began, a 15-0 spurt on four layups, a dunk and a handful of free throws, giving the Blue Jays the lead for good.
NUMBER TO KNOW
56 – The Blue Jays dominated inside behind a monster performance from Powell, scoring 56 points in the paint, to just 30 for the Seahawks.
- USJ shot a season-high 57% from the floor (35-62) and 38% from deep (6-16). The Blue Jays had only made 9-of-42 from three on the season entering Tuesday night.
- Saint Joseph had a season-low three first-half turnovers.
- Spencer finished 11 points shy of his career-high; a 38-point night in a 91-82 win vs. Colby-Sawyer in November 2018.
Men's hoops remain home for the third of a four-game homestand in O'Connell Center on Saturday afternoon against Lesley in another non-conference contest. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.