Wirth’s double-double not enough to top host Monks, 69-65
STANDISH, Maine — The Saint Joseph’s College of Maine men’s basketball team rode a first-half surge and held off Bates in the second half to score a 69-65 non-conference victory over the Bobcats Tuesday night at Harold Alfond Center. It is the Monks’ first victory over the Bobcats in the teams’ annual matchup since Feb. 11, 2003.
The Monks (7-2) overcame a 9-0 deficit in the first four minutes of the game to take a 30-25 lead into halftime. The teams traded three leads apiece and eight ties in the second half, but four free throws by Elbie Murphy sandwiching a layup by Zach O’Brien and a Chris Petzy foul shot over the final two minutes broke a 62-62 tie and were countered only by a three-pointer by Bates junior Marshall Hatch with 3 seconds left on the clock.
Bates (3-4) shook off 35.3 percent shooting in the first half to hit 55.2% (16 of 29) of its shots in the second half. But the Bobcats got to the foul line for only four shots, hitting two, while the Monks went 14-19 from the charity stripe. St. Joseph’s also got hot in the second half, hitting 14 of 23 field goal attempts (60.9%).
Junior captain Chris Wilson (Brewer, Maine) led the Bobcats with 14 points, hitting 4-7 from behind the arc but only 1 of 9 in two-point territory. Junior Sean Wirth (Barrington, R.I.) recorded his first double-double this season with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and senior captain Scott Place (Bridgewater, Mass.) added 10 points with 4 assists. Hatch (Chicago, Ill.) scored 9 and sophomore Brian Ellis (Braintree, Mass.) added 8.
Murphy led five Monks in double figures with 15 points. Petzy came off the bench for 14 points, while Ray Eatmon and Tyler Kelley both scored 10.
Wilson scored five points in the first four minutes of the contest to help provide the Bobcats with a 9-0 lead out of the gate. The SJC shooters missed seven consecutive shots to start the game before Tyler Kelley ‘11 (Saco, ME) snapped the slump with a jumper at the 16:12 mark.
Murphy scored eight consecutive points for the Monks and cut the Bates lead to 15-10 with 12:27 to play in the first half. Bates converted their next three possessions, with two jumpers off the hand of Ellis, while St. Joe’s countered with a Chris Davis hoop to make the score 21-12, Bobcats.
St. Joe’s took control for the remainder of the first half, led by Petzy’s eight points, and posted an 18-4 run to bring the opening stanza to a close with a 30-25 lead. Bates shot 2-13 and committed five turnovers in the last 10 minutes and the Monks scored 16 points off 11 Bobcat turnovers in the first half.
The Monks shot 2-7 in the opening five minutes of the second half while the visiting Bobcats countered with a 4-5 performance to knot the game at 34 apiece. For the next four minutes the teams swapped leads, with neither club holding more than a four point advantage.
After Murphy stole the ball and dunked to tie the game at 45-45 with 10:48 to play, Bates put together a short offensive burst and outscored St. Joe’s 9-3. Place capped the spurt with a jump shot to give the Bobcats their largest lead, 54-48, since the halfway point of the first half.
In the subsequent four minutes, the Monks rebounded with a pair of three-point plays by Davis and Petzy and a three-pointer by Kelley to counter treys made by Place and Wilson to make it a two-point deficit, 60-58, with 4:58 left.
Zach O’Brien and Davis collected baskets on the next two SJC possessions to give the Monks a 62-60 lead with 2:32 to play, but junior Jimmy O’Keefe (Lexington, Mass.) took a pass from Ellis to make a wide-open layup and tie the game at 62 20 seconds later.
Two free throws from Murphy, a layup by O’Brien and a freebie from Petzy saw the Monks take a five-point lead, 67-62, with 10 seconds to play. Hatch nailed a long-range three-pointer to make it a one-possession game yet again. Place fouled Murphy on the inbounds pass with two-tenths of a second remaining, but the senior drained both foul shots to dash the Bobcats’ hopes.
The Bobcats will return home to host Husson University this Friday at 7 p.m.