BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Winners of two straight, the St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) men's basketball team will take the court for the first time in three weeks at the Trinity College Holiday Invitational this weekend. On day one (Saturday, Dec. 30) the Bears battle the host Bantams, and depending on the outcome will face Regis or Westfield State on day two.
Saturday, Dec. 30 at 5 p.m.
- Last time out, St. Joseph's defeated sister school SJC Long Island in dramatic fashion as senior captain Alec Willis (Staten Island, N.Y./St. Joseph by the Sea) nailed a last-second, fadeaway jumper from the baseline to secure a 61-59 victory. Before that the Bears handled Sarah Lawrence at home 75-60 behind a dominant double-double from sophomore forward Stephane Etheart (Hollis, N.Y./St. Francis Prep) (23 pts, 17 reb, 5 stl, 2 blk). The back-to-back victories pushed their record to 5-5 (4-3 league), placing them at sixth in the Skyline standings.
- Trinity also comes in with a two-game win streak, as they've won three of their last five after beginning the season with three-straight triumphs. All of the Bantams victories thus far have been by at least 15 points, so the Bears should be prepared for a high-powered offensive attack. The only mutual opponent this year has been Mount Saint Vincent, as Trinity downed the Dolphins 74-59 at home while the Bears defeated CMSV on the road via comeback, 71-66.
Keys to the Contest
- Etheart has essentially carried his squad over their past two wins averaging 18.5 points and 15.5 rebounds (two double-doubles) his last two times out. Along with Etheart, classmate Dimitri Sirakis (Hollis, N.Y./St. Francis Prep) has shined for the Bears all season, currently sitting at sixth in the league in scoring (16.2 ppg). Willis (12.1 ppg) and sophomore big man Kavan Meiner (10.3 ppg) (Staten Island, N.Y./Susan Wagner) round out SJC's scorers averaging double-digits. Getting these four going is absolutely necessary for the Bears, as at least two of their top-four scorers have dropped 10+ in every win thus far.
- Both Trinity and St. Joseph's are three-point happy on offense, with each side jacking up more than 18 deep-balls a night. Moreso, the two teams knock down their three-pointers at similar rates with Trinity converting 30.1% and SJC 31.9%. Defensively it's a different story, however, as the hosts allow just 28.4% of opponents' treys to fall compared to the Bears' 37% opposing 3FG%. The Bantams put forth a fairly balanced scoring distribution, boasting just two scorers averaging 10+ points led by junior Jeremy Arthur's 14 ppg.
- The two programs have not met since the 2013-14 season opener in which Trinity overcame the Bears 63-62 on a game-winning layup with eight seconds remaining.
- The Pride's showdown with Westfield State on day one of the Holiday Invitational will be their first time taking the hardwood since a Dec. 2 loss to Albertus Magnus. Previously, they had won three of their last four outings following a 0-2 start to the season. Coming into the weekend, Regis possesses a 3-4 overall record (1-1 league) and is propelled by senior guard Roger Hamel's 10.3 ppg on an efficient 35.7% 3FG% (77.8 FT%).
- Besides Hamel, the Pride rely on forward Ademola Afonja and his 9.9 points/7.4 rebounds per night, highlighted by a 14-point, 15-rebound double-double in a victory over Framingham State. As a team, Regis must place a heavy focus on taking care of the ball as they average an alarming 18.7 turnovers per game. The Bears have not seen Regis since 2012-13, in which they convincingly topped the Pride 70-59 in the season opener.
- 2017-18 has been a streaky season so far for the Owls, as they're currently riding a four-game losing streak, which followed a three-game win streak. Now, sitting at 5-6, Westfield battles Regis on day one in their first action since Dec. 10. Junior forward Marcus Collins provides plenty of low-post offense for his squad and is the scoring leader with 13.7 ppg, featuring four 20+ point outbursts this year.
- On the perimeter, sophomore guard Mood Bey pours in 11.3 points on average and holds two separate streaks of three-straight games with 10+ points this season. The Owls tend to be sloppy with the rock, coughing it up 16.7 times per game, but they make up for it with a smothering defense that forces 21.7 turnovers a night (11 steals/game). The Bears haven't taken on Westfield since 2010-11's holiday tournament in which they fell to the Owls 81-47.