WESTON, Mass.— The 22nd-ranked University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's basketball team turned a six-point halftime edge into an 18-point victory, ramping it up in the second half to defeat the Regis (Mass.) College Pride, 91-73, on the road Wednesday evening in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) matchup on Higgins Court. With the victory, the Blue Jays have won 19 straight, improve to 20-2 overall (8-0 GNAC), and clinched a spot in the GNAC Postseason Tournament, which kicks off on Tuesday, February 25.
Five players finished in double figures for USJ, and two players posted their first career double-doubles. Sophomore guard Delshawn Jackson Jr. (Hartford, Conn.) led the way with a team-high 23 points on 8-for-18 shooting, including 5-for-12 from beyond the arc. Junior forward Jordan Powell (Middletown, Conn.), who entered the contest second in the nation in field-goal percentage at 68.8% for the season, added 18 points on a perfect 9-of-9 from the floor.
Freshman guard Taelon Martin (Springfield, Mass.) was instrumental in the second-half surge, netting all 15 of his points in the second stanza, and playing tenacious on-ball defense. He also grabbed a career and game-high 10 rebounds, good for his first career double-double. Sophomore guard Jaecee Martin (Hartford, Conn.) also registered his first double-double, pouring in 11 points and dishing out 12 assists. Since joining the Blue Jays' lineup in December, Jaecee has amassed 111 assists in 15 games (7.4 apg), and has 17 more assists than any other player in the GNAC. Sophomore forward Kumar Brown (Enfield, Conn.) rounded out USJ's double-figure numbers, chipping in with a career-best 10 points (4-4 FG) in the win.
Junior Juvens Dalger (Oakland Park, Fla.) tied the Regis record for most made three-pointers in a game, going 8-for-11 from long distance, as part of a 10-for-17 field goal shooting effort, and a career-high 28 points. Dalger also pulled down a team-high eight rebounds. Junior Marc Trinidad (Bronx, N.Y.) finished with 12 points, four rebounds, and two assists, while classmate Jalil Wilkerson (New Haven, Conn.) contributed eight points and five rebounds off the bench to lead the way for the Pride.
Regis cut the gap to four, 44-40, with 18 minutes to go in the game. Saint Joseph exploded with a 26-7 run over the next eight minutes to put the game away, taking a 70-47 advantage.
Score: Saint Joseph 91, Regis 73
Records: USJ (20-2, 8-0 GNAC), Regis (7-15, 3-5 GNAC)
Location: Higgins Court | Weston, Mass.
COACH QUOTE [Jim Calhoun]
"It wasn't our prettiest, it wasn't our best, but it was a win. We only have six hours to play, three games to go, before postseason play. I think we are a very good team, we didn't show it early, but JC [Martin], Jordan [Powell] and Delshawn [Jackson Jr.] were big especially in the second half, as was Taelon's [Martin] defense. It is a good win for us, number 20 is always good."
- A layup by Trinidad and a three-pointer from Dalger gave the Pride an early 5-2 lead in the first minute of the game, but Saint Joseph scored seven straight points, capped by a three-pointer from Jackson Jr., to open a 9-5 advantage. USJ would never trail again.
- Regis came within one point of the Blue Jays four different times, the last at 15-14 after a layup by Cam Wilkins (Taunton, Mass.), but Saint Joseph rattled off 11 unanswered points, punctuated by a transition dunk by Powell, to extend the lead to 26-14 midway through the first.
- The Pride put together an 11-3 scoring run, featuring two three-pointers from Dalger, and five points by freshman Zak Latifi (Holliston, Mass.), to cut the deficit to four at 35-31. Another three-pointer from Dalger with 1:32 left in the first half brought Regis within two, 38-36, but Jackson Jr. scored four points in the final minute to give Saint Joseph a 42-36 lead at the break.
- The combination of Trinidad and Dalger allowed Regis to stay within striking distance for the first three minutes of the second half, but the Blue Jays effectively put the game away thanks to a 16-2 scoring run over a six-minute span.
NUMBER TO KNOW
9– This is the third straight game the Blue Jays have had nine steals. They average nearly nine per game, second only to Albertus Magnus in the GNAC.
- Saint Joseph hit 21-of-35 (60%) field goal attempts in the second half, finishing the game at 55% (37-of-67) overall and 71% (12-of-17) from the free-throw line.
- The Pride shot 27-of-60 (45%) from the floor, including 11-of-23 (48%) from behind the three-point line.
- The Blue Jays won the rebounding battle, 39-30, including 14 offensive boards leading to 23 second-chance points. Saint Joseph also scored 21 points off 18 Regis turnovers.
- USJ more than doubled Regis in points in the paint, outscoring the Pride 60-28 down low.
- This is the seventh time Powell has made either all or all but one of his shots in a game this season. He was 9-for-9 Wednesday night.
The USJ men's basketball team can clinch the top seed in the upcoming GNAC Tournament and home court throughout with a win on Saturday, February 15, at Emmanuel College in Boston. Tip-off between the Blue Jays and Saints is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at the Jean Yawkey Center.
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