STANDISH, Maine – For the first time since 2007, Suffolk men's basketball will compete in the GNAC semifinals as the sixth-seeded Rams held off the tournament's third seed and upset Saint Joseph's (Maine), 69-65, Tuesday night at the Harold Alfond Center.
SCORE: Suffolk 69, Saint Joseph's (Maine) 65
RECORDS: Suffolk (15-11) | Saint Joseph's (Maine) (16-10)
HOW IT HAPPENED
After 10 minutes of back-and-forth play, St. Joe's sat in front, 14-12. George Grillakis jump started 10 unanswered points for the Rams to flip the switch and put Suffolk ahead, 22-14, with just over remaining in the first half. The blue-and-gold kept their distance from the Monks and led by as many as nine on a Thomas Duffy bucket. SJC remained in the hunt, however, and shaved Suffolk's edge to five, 30-25, at the break.
The Monks hung around with the Rams out of the locker rooms as the hosts remained within a possession or two over the opening 13 minutes of second stanza action. Duffy fueled a 12-5 Suffolk run that turned the distance into double digits, 63-53, at the 3:05 minute mark.
St. Joe's did not go down without a fight, however, as the Monks clawed back in the final three minutes of regulation. SJC used a 7-1 spurt to pull within five, 65-60, with 1:38 to play.
With under a minute remaining, the hosts gambled with sending the Rams to the charity and it played out in the Monks favor. Jim Djema went 1-for-2 on his first trip, which preceded a Monks' jumper and tip-in to make it a two-point game with 17 seconds on the clock.
St. Joe's sent Djema back to the line and this time the junior guard missed the front end of a one-and-one before George Grillakis fouled on the rebound to send Ian Mileikis to the foul line. Thankfully for Suffolk, Mileikis made the first, missed the second, to keep the Rams ahead one, 66-65.
Michael Hagopian made on at the line and the Monks turned it over on their next possession before Duffy locked up the 69-65 win with a pair of freebies with two seconds left.
- Hagopian shot 60 percent (6-10) from behind-the-arc to lead Suffolk with a game-high 25 points. He chipped in five caroms, two dimes and one steal.
- Duffy, meanwhile, had 22 points behind an 8-for-13 performance from the field, a 2-for-3 showing from downtown and a 4-for-5 effort at the free throw line. He led the Rams on the glass with seven boards to go along with three assists.
- Djema and Grillakis each contributed eight points apiece, while Mulson registered six points and six boards.
- Suffolk shot 45.6 percent (26-57) as a team from the field, 47.6 percent (10-21) from three-point land and just 53.8 percent (7-13) from the line.
- SJC outrebounded the Rams, 38-33.
- Suffolk made its 14th overall and sixth straight appearance in the GNAC Tournament.
- The Rams defeated Saint Joseph's (Maine) for the first time in the league's postseason and the team's second meeting in the conference tournament.
- For the first time since 2007 and fourth time overall, Suffolk advanced to the conference semifinals.
- Suffolk advances to the semis for the first time as the field's sixth seed.
- The postseason win is the first under Jeff Juron's guidance and first since 2007 when the seventh-seeded Rams upset second seeded Emerson, 80-75.
- Suffolk took down the Monks in back-to-back meetings for the first time in the all-time series, which dates back to Jan. 15, 2008.
- The Rams won their sixth-ever game over SJC.
- Hagopian had his seventh game with 20-plus points, while Duffy surpassed 20 points for the 10th time this season.
Suffolk advances to the GNAC semifinals and will take on Johnson & Wales Thursday, Feb. 24 on the Wildcats campus.