WEST HARTFORD, Conn.— Behind double-doubles from sophomore point guard Jaecee Martin (Hartford, Conn.), and junior forward Jordan Powell (Middletown, Conn.) for the second straight game, the 19th-ranked University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's basketball team closed the regular season with its 22nd win in a row, 93-76, over the Colby-Sawyer College Chargers (CSC) in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) matchup in the O'Connell Athletic Center Saturday. The Blue Jays honored Senior guard Stephen Laffin (West Hartford, Conn.), the first senior in school history at half court before tip-off.
Martin was once again sensational from the opening tip, finishing five rebounds shy of a triple-double, scoring 14 points (4-7 FG), dishing out 12 assists, and grabbing five boards. It was his third career double-double and second in a row. Powell was per usual, dropping a game-high 25 points on 11-for-14 from the floor and 14 rebounds. A flock of four Blue Jays scored in double figures. The Chargers were led by senior center Dana Bean (Franklin, N.H.), who played his heart out in what was eventually his final game: 25 points (12-19 FG) and nine rebounds. The Blue Jays led by only one at the half, but turned it on with a 20-10 run midway through the second half to put the game away.
The Blue Jays will have home court throughout the postseason as they continue their quest back to the GNAC Championship, where they lost 81-77 to top-seeded Albertus Magnus in 2019:
Quarterfinals - Tuesday, February 25 (at high seeds)
Game 1: #8 Regis at #1 St. Joseph (CT) - 7:00 PM
Game 2: #5 Saint Joseph's Maine at #4 Anna Maria - 7:00 PM
Game 3: #6 Lasell at #3 Emmanuel - 5:30 PM
Game 4: #7 Suffolk at #2 Albertus Magnus - 7:00 PM
Semifinals - Thursday, February 27 (at high seeds)
Game 5: #4/5 winner vs. #1/8 winner
Game 6: #3/6 winner vs. #2/7 winner
Championship - Saturday, February 29 (at highest remaining seed)
Game7: At highest remaining seed
Score: Saint Joseph 93, Colby-Sawyer 76
Records: USJ (23-2, 11-0 GNAC), CSC (10-15, 4-7 GNAC)
Location: O'Connell Athletic Center | West Hartford, Conn.
PLAYER QUOTE [Jordan Powell]
"They knew they had to win this one to keep their season alive, so we just came out feisty and had to turn it up in the second half. It just made us hungrier, the coaches wanted us to keep it going, and we knew we had to keep fighting."
COACH QUOTE [Jim Calhoun]
"A couple of days before Christmas, we go from being 1-2 after playing Tufts, and thinking 'oh my God, what is going to happen?', but what happened is we haven't lost. These kids deserve an incredible amount of credit, and I keep pushing them and pushing them, but I think that is one of the reasons why we continue to get it done. We are a very good defensive team, if we are playing defense I think everything will take care of itself."
- The Chargers looked to be the sharper team early, taking a 21-11 lead with 13:03 to go in the first. Bean was sensational in the post, not allowing the Blue Jay bigs to dictate his spot on the floor.
- Colby-Sawyer utilized a 2-2-1 full-court press and a 1-3-1 half-court pressure defense to force 11 early Blue Jay turnovers. It kept the Chargers in the fight, and at the half, Bean hit a buzzer-beating putback to make it a one-point game, 40-39 at the break. The sellout crowd was left shocked as half number two was waiting in the wings.
- With the Chargers' playoff hopes on the line (a win and they were in, a loss would send them home), the Blue Jays finally ramped it into high gear, as 'JC', and Powell connected on multiple plays on the break and in the halfcourt, Martin finding Powell over and over for easy baskets to keep the pressure on. Colby-Sawyer simply wore down, as a 14-4 run in the final eight minutes put the game out of reach, and ended the Chargers' hope of a playoff run.
NUMBER TO KNOW
1 - The Blue Jays had already clinched the number one seed in the upcoming GNAC Tournament, an eight-team, single-elimination format tournament. USJ will have home-court advantage throughout, starting on Tuesday.
- USJ finished 11-0 in the conference, becoming just the second school in GNAC Men's Basketball history to finish the regular season undefeated in GNAC play (Albertus Magnus 2012, 2015).
- The Blue Jays dominated in bench points (26-6) and fastbreak points (28-10).
- USJ had 28 assists on 34 field goals.
- Saint Joseph is now 1-1 all-time versus Colby-Sawyer.
It's on to the postseason, as the USJ men's basketball team hosts the first-ever playoff game in program history, when they go head-to-head with the eight seed, Regis College, on Tuesday, February 25 at 7:00 p.m. in the O'Connell Center. Tickets can be purchased at usjbluejays.com/tickets starting on Sunday, February 23 at 12:00 p.m. Tickets will go fast, so get yours today!
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