BROOKLYN, N.Y. — In the midst of a season-long losing streak, the St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) men's basketball team is set to wrap up 2017-18 with two-straight Hill Center showdowns this week. The Bears were eliminated from playoff contention last week, but have already mightily improved upon 2016-17's one-win campaign. On Tuesday, Old Westbury travels to Clinton Hill followed by Merchant Marine on Thursday for captain Alec Willis' senior game.
Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.
vs. Old Westbury
- After a thrilling win at home over then first-place Mount Saint Vincent (Jan. 24), the Bears have suffered five-straight losses with their last two coming by double-digits. The first three were by six points or less including two heartbreakers on the road, first with a 68-66 defeat to Mount Saint Mary (Jan. 27), then an 83-80 loss in their first overtime game of the season at USMMA.
- The Panthers have won four of their last five and sit comfortably at sixth place in the Skyline standings. Last time out they defeated second-place Mount Saint Vincent (Feb. 10) 59-53 as three Panthers reached double-figures led by Preston Powell's third 20-point game of the season (21). Their most recent loss came at the hands of red-hot Yeshiva (Feb. 6) behind an extremely efficient 51/43/85 Macs' shooting split.
Keys to the Contest
- Despite the unfavorable record, sophomore forward Stephane Etheart has impressed averaging a double-double during the losing streak with 17.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per outing. His recent exploits have vaulted him to first on the team in scoring for the season (13.9 ppg) while he also paces SJC in rebounding (9.6 rpg). The big man has now found his way into the Skyline's top-10 scorers, sitting in a tie for 10th and his boards per game average is good for fourth.
- When these teams met in January, Etheart went off for yet another double-double (20 pts, 15 reb), but OW's Yancy Ulysse outdueled Stephane with a 23-point, 17-rebound double-double himself as the Panthers pulled out a 73-64 victory (Jan. 13). On the season, Old Westbury has been led by senior forward Alan McDonald and his 14.5 points per game, mostly coming off the bench.
- The Bears have lost five-straight to Old Westbury, including the 2015-16 Skyline Championship, with their last victory (81-63) coming earlier that season (Dec. 2, 2015).
Thursday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.
vs. Merchant Marine
- Merchant Marine ranks one spot ahead of the Bears in the Skyline standings and, similar to SJC, they are enduring a three-game losing streak as they went 0-2 last week in the league contests. The Mariners would have to win the rest of their games in order to have a chance at qualifying for the Skyline Championships. In their last game, USMMA also fell victim to streaking Yeshiva, as four Macs scored at least 16 points in a double-digit triumph (Feb. 11).
Keys to the Contest
- Right behind Etheart is his classmate, guard Dimitri Sirakis whose 13.8 points a night are second on the squad and 12th in the league. The team's third-leading scorer is Willis and his career-high 13 points per game. The captain has enjoyed hot shooting from deep all season, as his 46.4% 3FG mark is the best among the Bears' rotation players by a wide margin. In their February 1 meeting, Stephane (19 pts, 15 reb) and his brother Sebastien Etheart (14 pts, 12 reb) each recorded double-doubles to lead five Bears in double-figures but SJC came up short in overtime.
- SJC comes in at 1-3 all-time versus the Mariners with close losses in the past two meetings.