PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's basketball team turned things around in the second half after trailing by 17 points, but couldn't get close enough down the stretch, falling to the Rhode Island College (RIC) Anchormen 67-57 inside The Murray Center Sunday afternoon.
Saint Joe's (3-2) has now lost back-to-back road games, while RIC (6-1) are winners of three straight. The Anchormen did their damage from deep, nailing 12 three-pointers to USJ's four. While the Anchormen did not shoot overly well on the day (25-80 FG, 12-41 3FG), they did take 22 more shots than Saint Joe's, simply giving them more chances to score. USJ had 18 turnovers to RIC's eight.
Freshman forward Nadir Dixon-Thompson (Dorchester, Mass.) had his best game of the season, beating and banging in the paint for 20 points (8-13 FG) and 14 rebounds. Sophomore forward Mike Sagay (Bloomfield, Conn.) scored 10 of his 12 in the second half, after being sent to the bench with early foul trouble. He also added four steals. Freshman guard Chris Childs (Bronx, N.Y.), who came into the game as the Blue Jays leading scorer (nearly 20 PPG), was held scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting. Childs played just 16 minutes and did not start.
The Anchormen relied on their dynamic duo from deep—sophomore guard Adham Floyd (Worcester, Mass.) and freshman guard Deyshawn Tengbeh (East Providence, R.I.), who combined for 40 of the 67 Anchormen points, and 11 of the team's 12 threes (11-33). They combined to sit just one minute of the game.
Floyd got things going early for RIC, nailing a contested three off the dribble as the shot clock expired. He also got to the hole for an athletic lay-in. RIC pulled several shots from deep early on, and seemed to have a little more zip on both ends, especially on the boards. They led 7-4 with 16 minutes left in the first half.
Floyd followed it up with another three on the move from the same spot. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays could not get things going offensively. Several turnovers around the hoop kept the Anchormen in front, and first-year Head Coach Jim Calhoun was forced to call a timeout with 12:07 left in the first, RIC up 12-5.
Floyd continued to be a one-man wrecking crew early, drilling his third three from the same exact spot—the right wing. Dixon-Thompson worked down low for a few scores, while freshman center Chris Cherry (Central Islip, N.Y.) connected with freshman guard Cameron Sells (Ansonia, Conn.) on a backdoor layup. Sagay picked up his second foul with 11:52 to go, forcing him to the bench.
The Anchormen took a 12-point lead with just over eight minutes left in the first. Despite changing to a 2-3 zone, RIC still converted from the perimeter. When the threes didn't fall, junior forward Benjamin Vezele (Providence, R.I.) cleaned up inside (10 PTS, 12 REBS).
USJ faced their largest deficit of the game as the half came to a close, down 20 points with four minutes left. They trimmed it to 17, but still trailed 39-22 at halftime.
Sagay came out with a steal for a layup, and a three in secondary transition as the trail man, sparking a 9-0 run to start the second half. All of a sudden, the lead was eight with 17 minutes left.
The Blue Jay zone was much more active, forcing the Anchormen into some bad shots. Freshman guard Ryan O'Neill (Litchfield, Conn.) was key in the second half, nailing a three to bring USJ within three, 43-40, with 13:00 left.
Unfortunately, they wouldn't get any closer. Sagay, O'Neill and Dixon-Thompson pitched in offensively, but USJ as a team could not get close enough to change the momentum of the game. Each time they drew close, Floyd and Tengbeh would knock down a tough three, or Vezele would clean up for a much-needed hoop. Despite some fun to watch back-and-forth action, the pace did not suit well for a Blue Jay comeback, as the effort fell short in the end.
USJ will wrap up their three-game road trip at Merchant Marine (N.Y.) this Tuesday, November 27th, at 7:00 p.m. Rhode Island College will wrap up their three-game homestand Wednesday, November 28th at 7:30 p.m. against Eastern Connecticut State.