WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - A trio of Blue Jays led the University of Saint Joseph basketball team past the Anna Maria Amcats, 69-56, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference game inside the O'Connell Center on Saturday afternoon. The victory improves USJ's overall record to 9-13 on the season and 3-10 in the GNAC. Anna Maria drops to 5-18 overall and 2-13 in the league with the loss.
Junior Kayla Guest (Newington, Conn.) led all scorers with a game-high 24 points shooting an efficient 7-of-11 from the floor. Senior Carlee Putnam (Niantic, Conn.) was right behind her and exploded for a huge double-double finishing with 23 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. It marks the second double-double of the season for Putnam and third of her career. Junior Rajeen Mayo (Middletown, Conn.) joined Guest and Putnam in double figures with 17 points, while adding five assists.
The Blue Jays never trailed in the 69-56 victory on Saturday afternoon. Both teams struggled to get things going in the opening quarter as neither team shot over 25.0 percent over the first 10 minutes and USJ held a slight 10-8 lead at the first intermission.
Putnam and Mayo took over in the second quarter to separate the hosts from the Amcats. A 6-0 spurt all coming from Mayo to open the second period built the Blue Jays lead to 16-8 with just under eight minutes left before halftime. Anna Maria would cut it back to five (20-15) after a three ball from senior Christina Gauvin (Dudley, Mass.) at the 4:05 mark, but the Blue Jays would respond and a good triple by Putnam on USJ's next trip down the floor ignited a 12-2 USJ run to close the half as the Blue and Gold took a 32-17 advantage into the break.
The third quarter proved to be a back and forth affair and the Blue Jays maintained a steady lead, responding to any Amcat threat to dip into their lead. The Blue Jays would build their largest lead of the game, 52-33, with just under two minutes left in the quarter following a lay-in by Putnam, however AMC would close the gap to 54-38 heading into the final period of play.
The visitors made one final push over the opening half of the final quarter to try and crawl back into the contest. They would get it within 10 (57-47) after a pair of free throws from senior Deja Taitt (Cambia Heights, N.Y.) with 5:43 left in regulation, but four straight points from Mayo would give the hosts back a comfortable lead. AMC once again got the score within 10 (62-52) with three minutes left, but USJ responded once again and a huge lay-in by Guest swung the momentum back to the Blue Jays on the next trip down the floor as USJ would go on for the 69-56 victory.
The Blue Jays shot 41.5 percent (22-of-53) as a team from the floor in the game, including 33.3 percent (4-of-12) from three. They were also excellent from the charity stripe converting at a 72.4 percent (21-of-29) clip. Anna Maria hit for just 28.0 percent (21-of-75) from the field, 16.7 percent (4-of-24) from three and 43.5 percent (10-of-23) from the line.
Gauvin and Taitt were the leading scorers for the Amcats. Gauvin led the way with 19 points, while Taitt poured in 18. They each also grabbed eight boards apiece.
The Blue Jays won the battle on the boards out rebounding the Amcats 50-46. Putnam led the way with a career-high 13 and Guest added nine. Mayo dished out five assists to go with her 17 points.
The USJ basketball team will return to action next on Tuesday night and Senior Night when they host Albertus Magnus in its final home game of the 2016-17 season. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.