WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — The No. 9 University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's basketball team fended off a second-half surge from the No. 11 Tufts University Jumbos, to pick up a, 75-62, win Saturday afternoon inside the O'Connell Center in non-conference action. USJ is off to its best start in team history, improving to 4-0 with the triumph, and has allowed less than 65 points in four straight games, the second longest streak in program history (six in 2019-20). It also marks the second-ever win for men's basketball over a ranked opponent (No. 19 Albertus Magnus January 29, 2020) and is the first official victory for recently appointed head coach Glen Miller, who took over the reins following Thursday's retirement announcement of Hall of Fame Head Coach Jim Calhoun, who was in attendance Saturday to cheer on the Blue Jays, and spoke to fans and fanatics alike on the Blue Jays' halftime broadcast.
Senior forward Jordan Powell (Middletown, Conn.) was the player of the game for the Blue Jays with a team-high 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor. He also grabbed a team-best eight rebounds and logged a season-high four blocks. Senior guard Tyree Mitchell (East Hartford, Conn.) added 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Senior guard Jaecee Martin (Hartford, Conn.) was at his best on both ends Saturday, scoring 12 points, dishing out eight assists, and collecting three steals. The Jumbos were without their star, the reigning New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Player of the Year and D3Hoops All-American, senior forward Luke Rodgers (Boxborough, Mass.), who has been sidelined with an injury. Tufts drops to 0-3 to start the season for the first time since 2010, when they started 0-4.
Saint Joseph couldn't have asked for a better start in this one, racing out to a 20-4 lead. However, the Jumbos found a way, even through some shooting struggles, to get back in it and eventually took the lead, 37-36, with 17:26 to go in the ball game. It would be short-lived though, as USJ relied on a balanced offensive attack to regain the lead moments later and for good over the defending NESCAC champions.
Score: #11 Tufts 62, #9 Saint Joseph 75
Records: TU (0-3), USJ (4-0)
Location: O'Connell Center | West Hartford, Conn.
PLAYER QUOTE [Jordan Powell] "Coach Miller was very proud of us. We started off strong, had a little letdown there, but he was proud of us for how we stuck together throughout and came out with a win. A lot of our game plan was based on the way we played when we lost to Tufts two years ago. We kept it in our mind, we were waiting for this game. We knew we had to be ready for a tough fight against a tough team. It is definitely going to take some time to get used to not having Coach Calhoun around us much, but he will still be around, so we will still see him, and Coach Miller is like another Coach Calhoun. He's been around him so long. Coach Miller's voice and system is just like Coach Calhoun's so we will be just fine."
COACH QUOTE [Glen Miller] "It is really nice to get a win. That is a good Tufts team. We struggled offensively today, but we played great defense early on to build a lead. We went through a lull where we could not score, and then our defense let up and Tufts came back. They're a really skilled team that can shoot the ball. I thought we came out and competed well in the second half, got a little better, and got our defensive execution back. It was a terrific win overall."
The Blue Jays continue their red-hot start with another big home game as part of a NESCAC swing, taking on the Bantams of Trinity College on Sunday, November 28 at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday night's Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) opener versus the Elms College Blazers has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Blazers men's basketball program. That game will be rescheduled with a date and time TBA. Tickets for Sunday's matchup against the Bantams can be purchased by visiting www.usjbluejays.com/tickets.