NEW LONDON, N.H.— The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's basketball team could never quite get the run that they needed in a back-and-forth thriller, missing a game-tying three from the corner, and falling to Colby-Sawyer College (CSB), 91-88, inside the Coffin Field House Tuesday night.
The Blue Jays (9-6, 0-1 GNAC) drop their first conference game of the year, while the Chargers (7-6, 1-0 GNAC) snap a four-game losing streak. Junior center Dana Bean (Franklin, N.H.) flat-out dominated inside on his way to a double-double, scoring 20 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Junior forward Patrick Coffey (Westford, Mass.) scored a game-high 29 points (9-19 FG, 9-10 FT) and had four steals. Freshman forward Noreaga Davis (Bridgeport, Conn.) led the Blue Jays with another double-double (19 PTS, 10 REBS, 5 ASTS), while freshman guard Chris Childs (Bronx, N.Y.) scored 17 points off the bench (13 in the second half). USJ shot 25-for-40 from the foul line (63%), including 9-for-18 in the first half.
The first six minutes were neck and neck, with the score tied, 7-7. Freshman forward Ryan O'Neill (Litchfield, Conn.) took matters into his own hands, drilling back-to-back threes to go along with 1-for-2 from the foul line. The Blue Jays took a 14-10 lead with 12:44 left in the first half.
The Chargers battled back behind aggressive play from Coffey and timely scoring from Bean. An 11-4 run gave CSC the lead, 21-18, with 8:50 left in the first half.
Neither team was really able to get the advantage. The lead changed hands 18 times on the night, to go along with 12 ties. The Blue Jays would trail by five, then battle back to take a one-point lead. Then it was the Chargers turn, snagging a few quick baskets to tip the see-saw again. The last team to score was going to lead at the break. Coffee sank a jumper with less than a minute to go, and the Chargers took a 41-38 lead into the locker room.
The Blue Jays could not get over the hump to start the second. Senior guard Jourdain Bell (Manchester, N.H.) got the Chargers going with an and-one, and another lay-in inside. CSC took a 50-43 lead with 16:53 to go.
The Blue Jays responded behind a Childs three, and two scores inside by freshman center Nadir Dixon-Thompson (Dorchester, Mass.) The game was tied, 52-52 with 14:52 to go.
It became a scoring affair between Childs and Davis for USJ, and Coffey, Bean and Bell for CSC. Similar to the first half, neither team could pull away. In fact, for 10 minutes straight in the second half, neither team led by more than two, that is until Bean stuffed in a put-back slam to take a three-point lead 78-75, and the momentum with it, with just 4:00 to go.
The Blue Jays were able to tie it back up on a layup from freshman point guard Delshawn Jackson Jr. (Hartford, Conn.), but clutch free-throw shooting from Coffey kept the Chargers afloat. Childs did all he could from beyond the arc, while Davis showed plenty of toughness inside cleaning up, but CSC kept knocking down free throws. Down three on the final play, Childs made a great extra pass to the left corner after being double-teamed up top. Sophomore center Mike Sagay (Bloomfield, Conn.) was wide open. He had a great look at a three for the tie, but it hit the back of the rim. Once again, Davis found a way to get the offensive rebound on the weak side, and hoisted up a fadeaway three with just a seconds left, but he could not connect. The buzzer sounded, and the Chargers held on for an action-packed three-point win.
USJ is headed home for their second Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) game, Thursday, January 10, at 7:00 p.m. against Emmanual (Mass.) inside the O'Connell Center, on the campus of USJ. Colby-Sawyer starts a two-game road trip at Johnson & Wales, also on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.