BOSTON – The Suffolk men's basketball team lifted the lid on its GNAC schedule in the win column as the Rams took down Johnson & Wales, 77-67, Saturday afternoon inside Regan Gymnasium.
SCORE: Suffolk 77 | Johnson & Wales 67
RECORDS: Suffolk (9-5, 1-0 GNAC) | Johnson & Wales (6-9, 1-1 GNAC)
HOW IT HAPPENED
Suffolk kept the Wildcats off the scoreboard for the first four minutes and built an early 6-0 edge. The six-point margin did not keep JWU at bay for long as the visitors climbed back into the action and leveled the playing field at 11-11 at the midway point of the first half.
See-saw action ensued with the lead changing four times before a power lay-up from Cameron Powers kept the blue-and-gold ahead, 18-16. The Rams could not remain in front for long as Matt Madoian's second trey of the day gave the visitors a 23-21 edge at the 6:01 minute mark. Brendan Mulson answered Madoian's triple with one of his own 26 seconds later to put the Rams in front once again.
Once the rock swished through the netting on Mulson's hoop, Jeff Juron talked things over in a timeout. Steven DiPrizio heated up out of the huddle with the forward going on a 9-2 run of his own to push Suffolk's cushion to 33-25.
JWU cut the margin to three with four straight points, but Michael Hagopian knocked down a bucket from downtown to keep the Wildcats at a two-possession distance. Johnson & Wales went on to score the final points of the first frame to send Suffolk into the locker room up just four, 36-32.
Both sides lagged in the opening portion of the second stanza. The score knotted at 36 and again at 38 before Jim Djema threaded the needle with a backdoor pass to DiPrizio, who converted on the traditional three-point play to keep Suffolk's lead intact, 41-38.
Out of the eighth tie of the game, DiPrizio teamed up with Mulson to build a 51-45 cushion with just under eight minutes left on the clock. The junior, sophomore pair outscored the Wildcats, 8-2, with each player recording four points in the stretch.
With momentum in its favor, Hagopian began to heat up from three-point land. The senior exchanged a pair of triples with two sets of free throws from the Wildcats to put a double-digit distance between the league foes, 57-47.
After Djema buried a top of the key three as the shot clock was expiring the Wildcats strung seven consecutive points together to trim the margin back to four, 60-56, at the 5:10 minute mark.
Five quick points all from Hagopian extended Suffolk's cushion back to nine with just over four minutes left, but things remained interesting as Johnson & Wales rattled off seven straight points again to make it a two-point game, 65-63 with 2:28 on the clock.
Alex Jacovides and Hagopian hit huge triples down the stretch, which forced the Wildcats to play up-tight defense. JWU had fouls to give and used them all until it sent Jacovides to the line for one-and-one with 25.5 seconds to go. The sophomore sunk the pair, but the game was still not over as Madoian quickly swished a three-pointer down the other end to keep the visitors in the action.
The Wildcats gambled with the foul game. Jacovides knocked down another set of freebies and Djema connected on a pair as well to lock up the conference opening win for Suffolk.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- DiPrizio had a monster day for the blue-and-gold with 23 points on a 10-for-15 showing from the field to go along with 14 rebounds, 11 of which came on the defensive end.
- Hagopian had 19 points thanks to his sharp shooting of 7-for-11 from the field and 5-for-7 from three-point range.
- Off the bench, Jacovides provided 13 points, four boards, one steal and one block.
- Mulson finished the day with nine points, four helpers and three caroms.
- Djema had an all-around game of six points, six rebounds, five set-ups, one takeaway and one swat.
- As a team Suffolk shot 48.3 percent (28-58) from the field, just 37.0 percent (10-27) from behind-the-arc and 91.7 percent (11-12) from the foul line.
- The Rams won the battle on the glass, outrebounding the Wildcats, 38-31.
- Suffolk and Johnson & Wales met in the Rams' GNAC opener for the sixth time overall and first time since the 2011-12 season.
- The Rams downed the Wildcats for just the 14th time in the all-time series and first since 2011.
- Suffolk moved to 3-3 in league openers versus JWU.
- The Rams defeated JWU for the first time in the Jeff Juron era.
- Suffolk won its second straight GNAC opener to move to 2-2 in the first conference contest of the season in Juron's guidance.
- DiPrizio deposited his second double-double of the season and third of his career.
- DiPrizio set a new career-high in points (23) and field goals made (10).
Suffolk concludes its non-conference calendar Monday, Jan. 14 when it travels to Western New England for a 7 p.m. battle.