USMMA Sinks Men’s Basketball in Home Heartbreaker

Alec Willis drained five of the Bears' 10 three-pointers finishing with 17 points.
Alec Willis drained five of the Bears' 10 three-pointers finishing with 17 points.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) men's basketball team appeared destined to pick up their third straight victory holding an 18-point lead with 9:49 to play, but a Bears offense that was shooting nearly 45 percent with 10 three-pointers suddenly went cold and found themselves without a field goal over the final eight minutes and the United States Merchant Marine Academy escaped with a 65-63 Skyline Conference victory on Saturday afternoon.

The Basics

  • Final Score: USMMA 65, St. Joseph's 63
  • Records:  USMMA (5-10, 2-5), St. Joseph's (4-10, 1-5),  
  • Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Arena: The Hill Center
  • SJC Starters: Willis (G), Giles (G), Idyahia (G), Parra (F), Meiner (F)

Turning Point

  • With the game tied at 63-63 and USMMA with the ball and the shot clock turned off, Matt Miller drained an 18-footer from the top of the key with 2.2 seconds left to complete a 26-4 run over the final eight minutes for the come-from-behind victory. 

How it Happened

  • The Mariners creeped out to six-point leads on two separate occasions in the first off Matt Miller trifectas before the Bears used a barrage of three-pointers to assemble a 20-2 run over seven-and-a-half minutes to build a 12-point lead, 28-16, at the 6:34 mark.
  • The Bears lead grew to as many as 16 in the first half with St. Joseph's draining eight three-pointers and shooting 48 percent (14-29) to carry a 39-28 lead into the lockers.
  • St. Josephs extended their lead back up to 18 on three occasions in the second, a pair of Aaron Parra free throws putting the Bears up 57-39 just past the midway point of the period.
  • However, Stephane Etheart's jumper at 8:09 would be the last basket to fall for the Bears as a lid seemingly covered the basket and they shot 0-for-13 and 0-for-9 from behind-the-arc the rest of the way.
  • USMMA slowly cut into the Bears lead which they held until 1:34 to go when Robbie Kennedy's three-pointer knotted the game at 61-all.
  • After the Mariners took their second lead of the game with a pair from the line with 40 seconds left, Christian Giles was fouled on a loose ball rebound with 27 ticks left and both his attempts in the bonus hit the bottom of the net to tie the game back at 63-all.
  • On the final possession, Matt Miller dribbled to the top of the arc and sank a contested pull-up two-pointer with 2.2 seconds left to steal the win as the Bears were unable to get a final shot off at the buzzer.

For the Bears

  • Junior Alec Willis led St. Joseph's with 17 points with five three-pointers. Twelve of his points came in the opening half.
  • Freshman Stephane Etheart logged 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench before fouling out.
  • Freshman Dimitri Sirakis drained three triples to add nine points with four assists.
  • Sophomore Aaron Parra scored eight points with four rebounds, but only played 18 minutes plagued by foul trouble and fouling out.

Inside the Box Score

  • St. Joseph's led for 31:18 in the contest while USMMA held the lead for just 6:35.
  • After shooting 48 percent (14-29) in the first half, the Bears struggled to connect on just 21 percent (6-28) in the second stanza.
  • Both teams made the most of their opportunities from the free-throw line hitting on a combined 80 percent, but the visitors (25-32) doubled up the Bears attempts (13-16).
  • Matt Miller scored a game-high 24 points to lead USMMA and grabbed eight rebounds. Connor Green added 13 points and eight boards and Christian Wittendorf chipped in 12.

The Bear Facts

  • USMMA improves to 2-1 in the all-time series.
  • The Mariners improve to 2-5 in Skyline play. All five losses have come against their divisional opponents and they are now undefeated against the South Division.

Next up for St. Joseph's

The Bears will continue play against the North Division and look to rebound at home hosting Purchase College on Tuesday, January 17. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. with Michael Kerr calling the action on the live webcast onn SJCBears.com.