MIAMI SHORES, Fla. — A career-high for junior forward Jordan Powell (Middletown, Conn.) and a strong second half overall, propelled the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's basketball team to its fifth straight win, 77-60, over Eastern University (EU) in the Blue Jays' opening game of the HoopMIA D3 Holiday Shootout Tuesday evening, inside the Health & Sports Center at Barry University.
Powell dropped a career-high 26 points on 12-for-18 from the floor, including 19 in the second half. Sophomore forward Ryan O'Neill (Litchfield, Conn.) added 15 and seven. Four Blue Jay starters scored in double figures, including sophomore guard Delshawn Jackson Jr. (Hartford, Conn.) and freshman guard Taelon Martin (Springfield, Mass.). Junior forward William Blet (Miami, Fla.) scored a team-high 18 points for the Eagles, who cut it to nine, 46-37, with 14 minutes to go, but USJ turned it on with a 13-2 run to pull away.
Score: Saint Joseph 77, Eastern 60
Records: USJ (6-2), EU (4-6)
Location: Health & Sports Center | Miami Shores, Fla.
COACH QUOTE [Jim Calhoun]
"I think going to Miami was great for the kids. They got an opportunity to practice, be with each other, and come together a lot more. We found some new people who have played well. Jaecee [Martin] can really drive you crazy when he is on the ball against the other teams. Powell has really helped us. Jalen [Samuels] came off the bench and did some nice things for us."
- Fans were treated to a back and forth battle in the first half, as Eastern would not let Saint Joseph build a lead larger than seven. Martin and sophomore forward Kumar Brown (Enfield, Conn.) nailed back-to-back jumpers to give Saint Joseph a 24-17 lead with 3:38 to play in the first.
- The Eagles came right back and cut the gap to three before the break. Sophomore guard Draig Ruff (Kingston, Pa.) scored with 10 seconds to go to make it 31-28 into the locker room.
- Four different Blue Jays scored to start the second half, as Powell picked up the pace inside. Powell and O'Neill combined for 11 of the first 15 to start the second stanza, giving the Blue Jays a 12 point lead, 46-34, with 14 minutes to go.
- An Eagles three-ball cut it quickly to nine, but USJ would not be denied, putting a 13-2 scoring run together on the back of Powell, who made layup after layup to blow the contest wide open.
NUMBER TO KNOW
63 - The Blue Jays shot 63% from the field in the second half (19-30), outscoring the Eagles by 14.
- USJ held a 50-30 edge in points in the paint.
- O'Neill scored 12 of his 15 in the second half. He and Powell combined for 31 of the Blue Jays' 46 second-half points.
- Saint Joseph is now 1-0 all-time against Eastern U.
Men's basketball has one more matchup in the HoopMIA D3 Holiday Shootout on Thursday, December 19 in Miami, Florida, as they go toe-to-toe with Bates. Tip-off is at 4:00 p.m. The official tournament page can be accessed here.