WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — The No. 9 University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's basketball team pulled away in the second half to extend its best start to a season in program history to 5-0, defeating the Bantams of Trinity College (TRIN), 79-59, in a non-conference contest inside the new-look O'Connell Center Sunday afternoon. It marks the second straight win over a New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) opponent for the Blue Jays after knocking off Tufts University in their last game on November 20. USJ has now held opponents under 60 points in four of their first five games (62 points in the other), and remain in the top-five in all of Division III in scoring defense, allowing just 57.0 points per game so far this season. The 59 points by Trinity marked the lowest offensive output for the Bantams in a game this season.
Sophomore forward Lucius Brittian (Mansfield, Conn.) was the player of the game for USJ with a career-high 16 points (5-6 FG, 6-7 FT), to go along with eight rebounds, six assists and two blocks, all off the bench, in 29 minutes of floor time. The Concorida College transfer bruised his way through Bantam defenders to get high-percentage shots inside, and has now scored in double figures in three of his first five career games for USJ. Senior guard Ryan O'Neill (Litchfield, Conn.) was as efficient as ever, scoring a team-high 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the floor, including 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. Junior forward Jalen Samuels (Franklin, Mass.) was the difference-maker defensively, holding junior guard C.J. Redd (Peekskill, N.Y.) to just one field goal in the second half, after Redd erupted for 14 first-half points. Samuels was solid all around, but was best known for his six steals and three charges taken on the afternoon. Redd scored 18 points and grabbed six boards to lead the way for Trinity in a losing effort.
Both teams took their best shots in the early going as the entertaining cross-town battle waged on. It wasn't until the end of the first half that the Blue Jays finally took hold, capping the opening stanza on a 13-0 run to lead it 41-29 heading into the locker room. Brittian made his first five shots off the bench to lead the way for USJ, while Redd made two first-half three-pointers for Trinity. It appeared that head coach James Cosgrove and the Bantams were going to make a run at it in the second half, cutting the gap to just three following a clutch triple from senior guard and three-point specialist, Tyler Mola (Leominster, Mass.), making it 46-43 with 14:32 to go. It would be all Blue Jays from there though, who seemed to have an answer after every big shot from the Bantams, either in the form of an O'Neill three, a lay-in from Samuels, or a big-time bucket from Brittian. USJ answered with a 17-1 run to take a commanding lead at the 10-minute mark of the second half and pulled away for good, maintaining a double-digit lead for the remainder of the contest. USJ is now 2-0 all-time against Trinity, winning both games by double-digits.
Score: Trinity 59, Saint Joseph 79
Records: TRIN (4-2), USJ (5-0)
Location: O'Connell Center | West Hartford, Conn.
PLAYER QUOTE [Lucius Brittian] "I feel like everything is coming together as a team. Without them, anything I do is impossible. It was definitely one of my better games today, but I am not satisfied with this one. It is all up from here, for all of us. We just have to keep going."
COACH QUOTE [Glen Miller on the team defense and holding C.J. Redd to four second-half points] "That's been our calling card, is defense. We have to be a terrific defensive team. It was a good effort though. We had a little lapse in the first half, but we came back to it much like we did in our last game against Tufts. If we can defend and add rebounding to it, we are going to be an awfully tough team to beat."
The Blue Jays have handled the NESCAC and now prepare for the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) slate, as they head to Dean College to take on the Bulldogs. That matchup will be at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 4 in Franklin, Mass.
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