PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Johnson & Wales University Wildcats used a fast start to run away from the University of Saint Joseph basketball team in the first half and would never look back in a 71-54 GNAC victory over the Blue Jays in USJ's final game of the 2016-17 season. The Blue Jays finish the season with a record of 9-16 overall and 3-13 in the league, an overall six-win improvement from the previous year under first-year head coach Brandon Gade. JWU closes the regular season at 18-7 and 13-3 in the GNAC with the win.
Blue Jays junior point guard Rajeen Mayo (Middletown, Conn.) led all scorers with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-15 shooting from the field and converted 7-of-11 free throw attempts. She also swiped a game-high six steals, dished out three assists and grabbed three boards. Senior Carlee Putnam (Niantic, Conn.) and junior Kayla Guest (Newington, Conn.) joined Mayo in double figures with 14 points each.
Kimberly Viafara (Woodside, N.Y.) powered the Wildcats to victory with a huge double-double scoring 16 points and grabbing a game-high 17 rebounds for the hosts. She was very efficient shooting 8-of-13 from the floor in just 25 minutes of action. Ashley Thompson (Bellingham, Mass.) and Raquel Pederzani (Coventry, R.I.) were also in double figures for JWU with 15 and 10 points, respectively.
USJ took its lone lead of the game, 7-6, at the 5:30 point of the first quarter after a Putnam made jumper. Over the next four minutes, the Wildcats went on a 12-0 run that was capped by a Viafara layup before eventually taking a 41-19 advatage into the halftime break. The JWU lead reached as many as 28 in the second half with the Blue Jays cutting it to 16 on a buzzer beater Putnam at the end of the third quarter.
Notching her sixth double-double of the year was Viafara as she pulled in a game-high 17 rebounds and scored 16 points. Thompson was next at 15 points and seven rebounds, while Pederzani tossed in 10 to go along with five assists and four steals.
Mayo led all scorers with a game-high 19 points to go along with six steals. She was one of three USJ players to reach double figures. Putnam and Kayla Guest each scored 14.
The Wildcats made nearly double the amount of field goals as the Blue Jays (30-18) and had a 51-30 rebounding margin. JWU also had the advantage for points in the paint (32-20) and second-chance scoring (13-1). USJ had a sizable advantage at the free throw line, going 16-of-24, compared to 6-of-13 by the hosts.