KINGS POINT, N.Y. — The University of Saint Joesph (USJ) men's basketball team made nearly three quarters of their shots in the second half, en route to their first-ever road win, 84-64, over the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), inside Liebertz Gymnasium Tuesday night.
The Blue Jays (4-2) snapped their two-game losing streak with a monster second half—aided by freshman guard Chris Childs (Bronx, N.Y.), who scored 17 of his 20 points in half number two, after being held scoreless in their last game at Rhode Island College. Sophomore center Mike Sagay (Bloomfield, Conn.) had his first career double-double (18 PTS, 10 REBS) on 6-of-13 shooting. Freshman point guard Delshawn Jackson Jr. (Hartford, Conn.) added in a season-high 16. USJ was plus 18 in the second half, shooting 71% from the field. They also shot a season-high 88% from the free-throw line (21-24) for the game. Sophomore forward Seth Barnes (Chillicothe, Ohio) scored a game-high 28 points for the Mariners (0-2).
The Blue Jays relied on crisp passes inside and out to pick apart the Mariners' 2-3 zone. Jackson Jr. kicked things off with a three from the top of the key. Free-throws from a trio of Blue Jay Bigs—Sagay, freshman forward Nadir Dixon-Thompson (Dorchester, Mass.) and freshman forward Ryan O'Neill (Litchfield, Conn.), along with a three from Childs, pushed the lead to 11-2 with 14:00 to go in the first half.
The Mariners relied on their bread and butter to stem the tide; knockdown three-pointers in their drive and kick offense, and pull-up mid-range jumpers off the dribble. While USJ defense prevented them from going down early with good contests, USMMA forced turnovers on D (which included a 2-2-1 full-court press), and stayed with it on O. Junior guard Eric Sobocinski (Southampton, N.J.) got hot in the first half, nailing three three-pointers, and was complimented by threes from sophomore guard James Walsh (Huntington, N.Y.) and junior guard Mike Morsberger (Catonsville, MD), who also slashed to the hoop for a few scores. A 14-4 run gave the Mariners their first lead 23-22, with 5:40 to go in the first.
The rest of the half saw some fast-paced, exciting back and forth action. The Mariners took their largest lead of the game, 28-24, after free throws from Barnes and the third three from Sobocinski. Freshman guard Brad Landry (Wallingford, Conn.) and freshman guard Cameron Sells (Ansonia, Conn.) chipped in for USJ, each shooting 2-for-2, combining for 10 first half points. Jackson Jr. added a few tough finishes against taller defenders in the paint to go with four assists. Despite 10 turnovers and eight fouls, the Blue Jays held a slim halftime lead, 34-32, holding the Mariners to 36% shooting (12-33) and 31% from three (5-16).
Sells had his second of two massive blocks around the rim to start the second half. Sagay followed it up with a monster-jam off a great lead pass by Landry, but with help from freshman forward Blaine McDonough (Marietta, GA) around the rim, and aggressive play from Barnes, the back and forth action continued, USJ leading 40-38 16:22 to go.
The Blue Jays would then put it in high gear, appearing to finally wear down the Mariners. A 22-9 run sparked by an array of jumpers from Childs (who started the second half), and work around the rim from Sagay, catapulted Saint Joe's to a 62-47 lead with 9:27 left. Sagay had his second slam-dunk of the half, this one off his own breakaway steal, finishing with the left hand. Childs would dominate the rest of the half, drilling jumpers in traffic, while slashing hard to the hoop for scores.
The run would be all USJ needed to keep the Mariners at bay, who despite forcing Saint Joe's into the penalty midway through the half, suffered several offensive droughts they could not overcome. Barnes did what he could to start a comeback, including several threes, but it would not be enough.
USJ is coming home for the first of a three-game homestand, this Saturday, December 1st, at 1:00 p.m. against MCLA inside the O'Connell Athletic Center, on the campus of USJ. Merchant Marine will play their first road game of the season at Sarah Lawerence Thursday, November 29th at 8:00 p.m.