Sports

St. Joe’s Bears Capture HVIAC Regular Season Title

From St. Joseph’s College, Clinton Hill

The St. Joseph’s College (Brooklyn) men’s basketball team received a trio of double-doubles from sophomores Michael Megafu (Brooklyn, N.Y./Nazareth Regional) and Matt O’Neill (Brooklyn, N.Y./St. Edmund Prep) along with junior David Louison (Brooklyn, N.Y./St. Edmund Prep), on their way to a wire-to-wire, 92-75 victory over Sarah Lawrence College to secure the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (HVIAC) regular season title on Tuesday night at Brooklyn Technical High School.

St. Joseph’s (14-8, 6-0 HVIAC) has now won a season-high five games in a row and clinches their first regular season league title since the 2009-10 season, while Sarah Lawrence (8-12, 3-1 HVIAC) picks up their first loss in HVIAC play.

20140204-mbb-megafuMegafu finished the night with his team-leading 14th double-double by way of a game-high 29 points along with 10 rebounds. The forward shot an efficient 11-of-16 from the field and 7-of-9 from the charity stripe and added three assists. O’Neill recorded his first career double-double with 11 points and a career-high 11 boards, adding four steals and three assists.

Louison picked up his third straight double-double and 12th on the season, pouring in 21 points and sharing game-high honors in rebounds with O’Neill. Junior Vernon Maddox (Staten Island, N.Y./St. Peter’s) almost made it a quartet of Bears to record a double-double, posting 15 points and a season-high-tying eight assists.

The Gryphons had four players score in double figures led by Mat Gerak who had 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting and brought down six caroms off the bench. Graham Gilleran and Wyatt Rocheleau each added 14 points, while Josh Niebloom chipped in 12 points.

O’Neill got St. Joseph’s on the board just over 20 seconds into the contest with his lone trifecta of the night and the Bears built a 25-12 lead midway through the first half. It looked as if St. Joseph’s would cruise to their 13th straight win over Sarah Lawrence. However, this proved to be a tougher Gryphons squad then in past years as they finished the first half on a 10-5 run, capped off by a Niebloom three from beyond half court at the buzzer that sent Sarah Lawrence down only nine, 41-32, heading into the break and gave them some life.

The Gryphons were able to hang tough with the Bears in the opening half due to 51.9 percent (14-of-27) shooting compared to 40.9 percent (18-of-44) shooting by St. Joseph’s. However, the Bears were able to take advantage of 11 Sarah Lawrence turnovers without committing one themselves to attempt 17 more shots than the Gryphons.

Sarah Lawrence was not able to use the momentum gained by the Niebloom triple as St. Joseph’s went to the press to disrupt the flow of the Gryphons offense and started the second half with back-to-back baskets from Maddox and Megafu to push the lead back to double digits at 45-32 where it remained for the rest of the game.

TURNING POINT

The Bears built their largest lead of the first half, 36-22, with 3:50 left to play on a Megafu jump shot and it looked like it would be an easy night for St. Joseph’s. Sarah Lawrence would stick around though, finishing the half on a 10-5 run to cut the deficit to single digits, 41-32, heading into halftime.

The Gryphons couldn’t capitalize off the buzzer-beating three from Niebloom as the Bears scored the first four points of the second half to move their lead back to double digits, 45-32, just over a minute into the frame and maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

  • Other Contributors: Greg Beehler (7 pts, 2 ast, 2 stl) Richard DiPuma (4 pts, 2 reb)
  • Sarah Lawrence continued its strong shooting in the second half, hitting 50.0 percent (18-of-36) of their attempts to finish the night at 50.8 percent (32-of-63), but was undone by 21 turnovers that the Bears parlayed into a 25-3 edge in points off turnovers.
  • St. Joseph’s shot much better in the second half, connecting on 48.7 percent (19-of-39) of their shots to finish the night at 44.6 percent (37-of-63).
  • The Bears were able to mistake free basketball for the majority of the game, committing only five turnovers and distributed the ball well finishing with 22 assists.
  • St. Joseph’s held a narrow 44-40 edge on the glass but a 16-7 advantage on the offensive glass which they turned into a 15-4 margin in 2nd chance points.
  • The Bears led by Louison and Megafu dominated the paint with a 48-22 edge in points in the paint.
  • Neither team was helped by the three-point ball with St. Joseph’s going a lackluster 2-of-21 (9.5 percent) from beyond the arc, while the Gryphons made 28.6 percent (4-of-14) of their attempts.
  • The Bears made a living at the line once again going 16-of-21 (76.2 percent) from the charity stripe, including 13-of-16 in the second half. Sarah Lawrence finished the night 7-of-11 from the line.

THE BEAR FACTS

  • St. Joseph’s improves to a perfect 13-0 against the Gryphons since 2002.
  • The game will be the last regular season Hudson Valley meeting as Sarah Lawrence will join the Skyline Conference next season.
  • The Bears had three double-doubles in a game for the first time since Megafu, Louison and Emitt Hightower did it against St. Joseph’s (L.I.) on December 7, 2012.
  • The five turnovers ties a season-low set against the University of Dallas on November 22nd.

NEXT UP FOR THE BEARS – STATEN ISLAND

St. Joseph’s returns to action this Thursday, February 6th at 7:30 p.m., hosting the 18-2 and CUNYAC-leading College of Staten Island at Brooklyn Technical High School. The Dolphins come into the game on a 17-game winning streak and received 28 votes in the latest D3hoops.com Top 25 poll.

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