BOSTON – The seventh-seed Suffolk men's basketball team hits the road for the GNAC Quarterfinals Tuesday, Feb. 21 when the Rams visit second seed Johnson & Wales. Tip-off at the Wildcat Center is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.
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2017 MEN'S BASKETBALL GNAC TOURNAMENT
Quarterfinals – Tuesday, Feb. 21
Game 1: #8 Anna Maria at #1 Albertus Magnus – 7 p.m.
Game 2: #5 St. Joseph's (Maine) at #4 Mount Ida – 7 p.m.
Game 3: #6 Emmanuel at #3 Lasell – 7 p.m.
Game 4: #7 Suffolk at #2 Johnson & Wales – 7:30 p.m.
Semifinals – Thursday, Feb. 23
Game 5: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner
Game 6: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner
Finals – Saturday, Feb. 25
Game 7: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner
Suffolk has appeared in all, but four GNAC Tournaments since joining the ranks in 2000. The Rams make their 13th overall trip to the tourney and seventh bid for the title in the past eight years. Suffolk captured one title in its 13 appearances in 2002 when the regular-season champion (17-10, 10-3 GNAC) Rams ran the post-season table and grabbed a 76-71 triumph over Johnson & Wales to hoist the crown.
The Rams will make their sixth tournament trip as the seventh seed and second straight in the seventh spot. Suffolk's last victory in the tournament came as the seventh seed in 2007, an 80-75 win over Emerson.
LAST TIME OUT
The Suffolk men's basketball team's late rally came up short at the Harold Alfond Center as St. Joseph's (Maine) outlasted the Rams, 80-73, in the squad's regular-season finale Saturday afternoon.
RUNDOWN ON THE RAMS
Suffolk secured the seventh seed thanks to a 7-18 overall mark and a 6-12 showing against conference competition.
The Rams will look upon their conference-best defense, which limits opponents to just 70.1 ppg, to slow down JWU's running game. Offensively, Suffolk has multiple open threats, but looks most consistently to set-up team-leader, sophomore Michael Hagopian, who averages 13.9 ppg. Classmate Jim Djema (10.8 ppg) and freshmen Georga Grillakis (7.6 ppg) and Thomas Duffy (6.9 ppg) all contribute to the Rams' offense.
Duffy paves the way defensively for the blue-and-gold with the rook grabbing 5.4 rpg to lead Suffolk's 31.5 rpg.
Johnson & Wales (14-11, 14-4 GNAC) captured the second spot edging Lasell in the tiebreak with a 75-70 overtime win over No. 1 Albertus Magnus Dec. 3. The Wildcats, who earned all their victories this season against conference competition, enter the trophy hunt on a two-game skid including an 87-86 overtime upset to Emmanuel in the regular season finale Saturday.
JWU's offense is the fourth-best in the league with 74.9 ppg and receives a significant contribution from Anthony Jernigan's 22.1 ppg. Jarell Lawson is also consistent offensively for the Wildcats, registering 13. 5 ppg.
Defensively, JWU is similar to Suffolk, being outrebounded by its opponents by a 2.6 margin, pulling down 37.4 rpg. Demani Spence leads the way on the glass with 6.7 rpg with Lawson adding 6.5 rpg to the effort.
WE MEET AGAIN
In the regular season, the Wildcats handled the Rams when the blue-and-gold visited Providence Jan. 25, 77-51, but Suffolk gave JWU a run for its money Feb. 11 when it stopped by Beacon Hill. Jim Djema shot lights out from three-point land to help Suffolk maintain a lead with less than three minutes remaining before the Wildcats outran the Rams down the stretch to claim a 69-62 victory.
Johnson & Wales has taken the last 12 meetings in the all-time series versus Suffolk to hold a commanding lead over the Rams, 27-13.
30-POINTS AND 10 YEARS AGO
Michael Hagopian followed up his 34-point performance versus Anna Maria Jan. 28 with a 36-point output at Rivier Feb. 1 to be the first player in over a decade to secure back-to-back 30-plus point outings. The sophomore from Watertown, Massachusetts, is the first player in blue-and-gold to accomplish the feat since John Murphy '07 did so at Johnson & Wales (Jan. 17, W, 97-91 2OT) and Daniel Webster (Jan. 20, L, 89-88 OT). Hagopian need just nearly 30 minutes to notch his 30-plus points, while Murphy racked up 39 and 30 points, respectively, in double overtime against the Wildcats and one extra session versus the Eagles.
Hagopian, who set the most points by a Ram in the Jeff Juron era with his 34-point performance versus the AMCATS, displaced his own record just five days later. The 36 points are the most by a Ram since Sam Nwadike recorded 39 in a thrilling 84-82 Suffolk win over Anna Maria, Dec. 4, 2014. He is also the first player to notch 30 points in an outing since Nwadike registered 30 in a 79-64 setback to Emerson Jan. 4, 2015. Hagopian's two 30-point games in one season is the most by a Ram since Nwadike matched that number in 2013-14.
For back-to-back weeks Dec. 5 and 12, Thomas Duffy earned GNAC Corvias Rookie of the Week honors.
The winner Tuesday will advance to the semifinals Thursday, Feb. 23 versus the victor of #6 Emmanuel at #3 Lasell.