BOSTON – The Suffolk men's basketball team hit shots when it needed to down the stretch and played stand-up defense over the final minute to defeat Saint Joseph (Conn.), 79-77 Thursday night inside Regan Gymnasium.
SCORE: Suffolk 79 | St. Joseph (Conn.) 77
RECORDS: Suffolk (18-6, 9-1 GNAC) | St. Joseph (Conn.) (13-11, 4-6 GNAC)
HOW IT HAPPENED
Steven DiPrizio sandwiched hoops around a triple from Michael Hagopian to give Suffolk an early 8-3 edge that edge. The Blue Jays climbed within three, but sharpshooting from Alex Jacovides off the bench kept the Rams ahead 16-12 with six minutes removed from the clock in the first.
USJ charged out of its own time, outscoring Suffolk 5-0 to take a 17-16 lead. Thomas Duffy wasted no time to put the Rams back in front and Jacovides knocked down his third three of the evening to mirror the Blue Jays five straight points and reclaim the four-point lead.
The score flipped once again as the Blue Jays went on a 7-2 spurt to go up 24-23 with 9:03 remaining in the opening half. Jacovides finesse behind-the-arc regained the lead for the Rams on their next possession.
Similar to the opening few sequences, DiPrizio and Hagopian teamed up for 10 straight Suffolk points that extended the hosts cushion to 11, 38-27, at the 4:25 minute mark. DiPrizio had a hand in each of the four buckets, scoring two himself and assisting on the pair of long balls from Hagopian.
St. Joseph kept things interesting with six straight points of its own to trim the deficit back to four, but Suffolk outscored the Blue Jays, 8-3 over the final 2:17, to head into half up 46-35.
Suffolk built a 14-point distance twice within the first five minutes, but went cold over the next five, which allowed USJ to pull within five, 59-54. Cameron Powers ending the scoring lull with a pull-up, elbow jumper and Duffy heated up from three-point land to keep the Blue Jays at bay and remain in front, 67-59, with just under eight minutes left on the clock.
A minute later, back-to-back buckets from USJ made it a one-possession ball game, 67-64.
The Rams managed to hit hoops when they needed to hold onto the lead. Things got interesting though when Chris Childs connected on a trey to cut the margin to four, 79-75.
Duffy missed the front-end of a one-and-one and Childs picked up the pieces of a missed shot and converted it into two points to make it a two-point game, 79-77, with 51 seconds to go.
A crucial turnover by Suffolk was made up for by a monster block from Brendan Mulson. The Blue Jays had one final chance to tie or take the game, but Childs shot was off the mark, and Suffolk clung to the win.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Hagopian had 21 points on an 8-for-15 day from the field including a 4-for-8 effort from three-point range. He added four boards, one steal, one assist and one block.
- Jacovides provide 18 points, all of which came from behind-the-arc. The reserve chipped in four boards, one block and one steal.
- DiPrizio put together a 17-point, eight-carom, six-handout, two-steal effort.
- Duffy registered 12 points, eight boards, two blocks, two dime and one takeaway.
- Suffolk shot at a 47.5 percent (29-61) clip from the field, 43.8 percent showing from three-point range (14-32) and 63.6 percent (7-11) from the line.
- St. Joseph edged out the Rams on the glass 43-31.
- With the win, Suffolk clinches at least the second seed in the upcoming 2019 GNAC Tournament.
- The victory marks the Rams 18th of the season, the most wins since going 19-6 in 1975-76.
- Suffolk matched its conference victories (9) from a year ago.
- Suffolk and St. Joseph (Conn.) met for the first time.
- Jacovides matched a personal-best six triples.
Suffolk concludes its regular season slate Saturday, Feb. 16 when it makes the trip to Albertus Magnus. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.