ALBANY, N.Y. — The No. 6-seeded St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) men's basketball team drained 11 triples and senior Matt O'Neill (Brooklyn, N.Y./St. Edmund Prep) led all scorers with 32 points to spur a 80-72 upset victory over No. 2-seed Sage, in the semifinals of the Skyline Conference Men's Basketball Championship on Thursday night in Albany, N.Y.
With the victory, the Bears advance to face top-seeded Old Westbury for a chance to win their first Skyline Conference Championship on Saturday, February 27 at 1 p.m.
- Final Score: St. Joseph's 80, Sage 72
- Records: St. Joseph's (15-12), Sage (16-10)
- Date: February 25, 2016
- Location: Albany, N.Y.
- Arena: Kahl Gym
- St. Joseph's: Willis (G), O'Neill (G), Parr (G), Archer (F), Megafu (F)
- Sage: McCray (G), Robinson (G), Mills (G), Gill (F), Patterson (F)
- Sage used a quick 5-0 run to take a three-point lead early in the second half, but the Bears responded with a 19-4 run to build a 12-point lead—their largest advantage at that point—with 11 minutes to go. Alec Willis jump started the spurt with a pair of triples, Archer added six points and O'Neill chipped in five points over the run that gave the Bears a double-digit lead for nearly the rest of the way.
How it Happened
- The Bears recorded the first five points and claimed an early 8-2 advantage following Matt O'Neill's triple less than two minutes into play.
- Sage battled back to draw even at 12-all, but St. Joseph's rattled off nine unanswered capped by Michael Murray's three-pointer to move up 21-12 at the 12:50 mark.
- Alec Willis' triple provided the Bears with their first double-digit advantage, 29-19, with 8:44 remaining in the first stanza. But the Gators outscored St. Joseph's 22-10 the remainder of the half to enter the break nursing a 41-39 advantage.
- After Sage pulled ahead by three, the Bears ran off nine straight points to take the lead for good.
- Leading 53-50 at the 12:43 mark of the second half, five points from O'Neill powered another 9-0 run as the Bears reclaimed momentum.
- Sage managed to cut into the deficit as Alex Lilac's three-point play made it 66-59 with 7:47 remaining.
- But the Gators would remain scoreless for the next 4:15 and, in that span, O'Neill and Michael Megafu drained consecutive triples to expand their cushion to 72-59.
- St. Joseph's coasted to the finish, netting eight free-throws in the final 3:22 to maintain a double-digit advantage for nearly the entire way.
For the Bears
- Matt O'Neill led the charge with a game-best 32, his second 30-point game of the season. The senior buried 5-of-10 from three-point land and also grabbed 10 boards for his sixth double-double of the campaign.
- Senior Michael Megafu posted 13 points and 13 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the season.
- Senior Jamir Archer dropped 17 on 7-of-13 shooting, adding four rebounds and a game-high three rejections.
- Sophomore Alec Willis finished 3-of-7 from downtown en route to a 10-point effort.
- Coming off the bench, senior Michael Murray fed his teammates with a game-best eight assists to match his career-high.
For the Gators
- Andre Robinson led Sage on offense with 19 points while securing seven caroms and distributing four assists.
- Marcus Patterson contributed a 12-point, 13-rebound double-double effort.
- Jorrdan McCray netted 3-of-6 from deep, finishing with 14 points, four boards and one steal.
- Travis Gill rounded out four in double figures with 11 points and five dimes.
Inside the Box Score
- Although the Bears trailed by two at halftime, they held the lead for 17:26 of the first 20 minutes and led for 33:31 in the contest. The Gators led for just 2:16 in the contest that featured six ties and six lead changes.
- St. Joseph's found their stroke from long range, connecting on 11-of-25 (45.6%). They finished an efficient 26-of-57 (45.6%) from the floor and held the Gators to 23-of-56 (41.1%).
- Both sides were busy from the free-throw line in a physical battle. The Bears hit 17-of-26 (65.4%), while Sage connected on 18-of-23 (78.3%).
- St. Joseph's compiled slight edges in rebounding (38-34) and assists (15-11).
The Bear Facts
- After consecutive upsets, St. Joseph's continues their cinderella story in the finals of their first ever Skyline Championship appearance. After finishing the regular season, the Bears needed additional help to earn the sixth seed in the championship.
- The Bears split the regular season series with Sage, claiming a 101-85 victory at the Hill Center on January 20 before falling 88-77 in Albany, N.Y. on February 3.
- Entering the game, Sage boasted a 10-2 record at "The Swamp"
- Michael Megafu has now crossed 1,600 points (1,605) and 1,100 rebounds (1,103) for his career.
- Matt O'Neill extends his SJC career record in steals to 312 and needs nine rebounds to reach 500.
- The Bears were predicted to finish 8th in the preseason coaches' poll, while the defending champion Gators were tabbed to repeat. Old Westbury, the Bears opponent on Saturday, was selected to finish second.
Next up for St. Joseph's
The Bears will clash with No. 1 Old Westbury on Saturday, February 27 for the Skyline Conference Championship with the winner also earning the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship. Both teams split the season series, winning their game on their home floor.
Tip off is slated for 1 p.m. at the Clark Athletic Center on the campus of Old Westbury with live stats available at SJCBears.com.