BOSTON – Jim Djema shot lights out from three-point land, but it would not be enough to tame Johnson & Wales as the Wildcats outran the Suffolk men's basketball team in the final three minutes to claim a 69-62 win inside Regan Gymnasium Saturday afternoon.
SCORE: Suffolk 62, Johnson & Wales 69
RECORDS: Suffolk (6-17, 5-11 GNAC) | Johnson & Wales (12-9, 12-3 GNAC)
HOW IT HAPPENED
JWU opened the contest with a layup and a triple and Suffolk mirrored that effort on the other end to lock the score for the first of five times in the opening 20 minutes.
Djema broke up the second tie of the afternoon with his first hoop from behind-the-arc and Jonathan Eng kept the Rams in front with his own hoop from downtown, making it a 15-12 Suffolk game at the midway point.
At the 7:22 minute mark, Suffolk would grab a six-point lead, 20-14, on a three from Michael Hagopian. Four quick points off Rams turnovers made things interesting once again and Jeff Juron took a timeout to settle things down. Out of the break, the score would equalize at 22-22, before Djema knocked down his third three of the first half to once again give the hosts a three-point edge.
Another 4-0 spurt by the Wildcats put the visitors in front with 25 seconds remaining in the half, JWUs first lead until the 12:23-minute mark. As time expired, George Grillakis found Hagopian in the right corner and the sophomore guard knocked down his second long ball of the day to give Suffolk a 28-26 lead at the intermission.
Djema carried his shooting stroke into the second stanza. His fourth bucket from three-point land came after Duffy opened up the scoring to make it a 33-26 Rams game less than two minutes into second half action.
The Wildcats started heating up on the long ball behind Israel Johnson's 3-for-3 performance that cut the Rams edge to one, 43-42 with 9:33 on the clock. Out of a Suffolk timeout, Edson Dascy kept JWU's shooting streak alive with a trey of his own to equalize the game at 45-all with 9:04 remaining.
Austin Prevost connected on a baby-jumper in the lane to reclaim the lead for the Rams, who went on to go-ahead by seven thanks to a traditional three-point play from Grillakis with 6:05 to play.
One minute later, Johnson & Wales made it a three-point game with back-to-back buckets. Djema's fifth three of the day put a six-point game, but Anthony Jernigan answered with a triple of his own to keep things at three.
The front end of Jernigan's one-and-one evened the game at 56-all, with the back end giving the Wildcats their first lead of the half. A set of freebies from Jarell Lawson combined with an alley-op from Michael Kiser swung things in the visitor's favor, 61-57 with just under two minutes remaining.
Trailing by six, the Rams found the hot hands of Djema, who responded with his sixth bucket from deep to keep Suffolk within striking distance.
Suffolk gambled with the foul game down the stretch and it did not play in the Rams favor as the Wildcats connected on 6-of-8 attempts in the final minute to seal the 69-62 victory.
- Djema's 26 points came off a 10-for-19 effort from the floor including a 6-for-7 showing from behind-the-arc. The sophomore added five boards to his shooting show.
- Hagopain joined his classmate in double figures with 12 points.
- Kevin Querusio led Suffolk on the boards with seven to go along with four assists and two takeaways.
- Suffolk shot just under 50 percent from the field (49% - 25-51), 52.9 percent (9-17) from three and 42.9 percent (3-7) from the foul line
- Johnson & Wales, meanwhile, shot 44.2 percent on the day (23-52), 41.2 percent from downtown (7-17) and 76.2 percent (16-21) from the charity stripe.
- The Wildcats outrebounded the Rams, 34-28.
- Djema's career day of 26 points featured six three's the most by a Ram this season and since Caleb Unni connected for seven versus Johnson State Nov. 12, 2015.
Suffolk heads out on the road for the final two games of its regular-season. The Rams first pay visit to Anna Maria, Tuesday, Feb. 14, before trekking to Saint Joseph's (Maine), Saturday, Feb. 18.