NEWPORT, R.I. — The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's basketball team clicked on all cylinders in the second half, turning a back-and-forth matchup into a blowout, as they knocked off Salve Regina University (SRU), 92-65, inside the Rodgers Recreational Center Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Jays (8-4) forced a men's school record 24 turnovers, which was good for 34 points. They also only turned it over 10 times themselves. USJ's depth shined offensively, outscoring the Seahawks' (4-7, 0-2 CCC) bench 31 to 7.
Freshman guard Chris Childs (Bronx, N.Y.) scored a game-high 24 points (6-7 3FG), but the star of the day for the Blue Jays was freshman point guard Delshawn Jackson Jr. (Hartford, Conn.), who scored a career-high 22 points (16 in the second half), dished out seven assists and had three steals. Sophomore forward Cameron Collins (Oakdale, Conn.) carried the Seahawks with 23 points and four rebounds.
SRU came out ready to play, scoring seven points in just over a minute. Collins, and sophomore guard Kevin Kelly (Valhalla, N.Y.) led the charge. First-Year USJ Head Coach Jim Calhoun had seen enough and called timeout, down 7-0 early.
Calhoun quickly turned to his bench for a spark plug. He found it in freshman guard Brad Landry (Wallingford, Conn.), who drilled two threes to get the Blue Jays going. Still, the Seahawks made seven of their first eight shots to take a 19-9 lead with 14:08 left in the first, behind stellar play from Collins and Kelly.
Childs, who went to the bench early, made a statement as he checked back in, single-handedly going on an 8-0 run (including two threes) to bring the Blue Jays within two. USJ could not stay out of foul trouble though, picking up their seventh foul of the half with more than 11 minutes to go. SRU would shoot free throws the rest of the way, while freshman starting center Nadir Dixon-Thompson (Dorchester, Mass.) would have to spend the rest of the half on the bench with two fouls.
Despite the offensive onslaught from the Seahawks, USJ was able to stay in the game by making the right adjustments defensively, forcing 12 early turnovers, which they converted into 19 points. They would use that momentum to go on a huge run. After trailing 29-23, it was a balanced attack inside and out, including Childs, Jackson Jr., and freshman guard Cameron Sells (Ansonia, Conn.), who carried a 20-4 Blue Jay run into the locker room, 43-33.
After starting 7-for-8 from the field in the first six minutes, the Seahawks shot just 3-for-10 the rest of the half, including a nine-minute stretch without a field goal. Childs scored 13 of his 24 in the first half (3-3 3FG), while Jackson Jr. scored six points and dished out five assists. Collins did most of his damage early in the half (11 points in 11 minutes), scoring 12 total in the first 20.
Both teams applied full-court pressure to start the second half. Collins scored twice early for SRU, but the Blue Jays had an answer for every hoop. Childs drilled another three off the dribble with a hand in his face, while freshman forward Noreaga Davis (Bridgeport, Conn.) converted on a big-time three point play after USJ took it out underneath their own basket. He also scored in the paint off a great pass from Childs on a hard drive. Freshman forward Alec Kinder (West Haven, Conn.) also contributed offensively, including an off-balance lay-in on a pass up ahead. USJ had their largest lead of the game, 55-42, with 14:47 to go.
Saint Joe's expanded their second-half lead by continuing to force turnovers. Every time SRU guards drove the ball baseline, USJ defenders cut them off without fouling, forcing SRU guards to step out of bounds and turn it over. Offensively, Jackson Jr. controlled the pace once again, answering Child's first-half run with a second-half run of his own—a 9-0 spurt off six free throws and a corner three-pointer. USJ took a 71-53 lead with 7:30 to go, and kept the pressure on to the end. Childs and Landry added three-pointers to complete the victory.
USJ wraps up their four-game trip away from home against Western Connecticut State University Wednesday, January 2, at 7:00 p.m. Salve Regina will play their third conference game of the season at Curry College (MA) on Thursday, January 3 at 7:30 p.m.