STANDISH, Maine – Junior Jack Casale (Portland, Maine) poured in 42 points Saturday afternoon as Saint Joseph's College of Maine defeated Lasell University, 88-70, in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) men's basketball regular season finale at the Harold Alfond Center.
The Monks wind up the regular season with a four-game win streak to finish at 12-13 overall and 6-5 in the GNAC, while the Lasers drop to 9-16 overall and also 6-5 in conference play.
Both teams are part of a four-way deadlock for fourth place in the GNAC, along with Anna Maria College and Suffolk University. According to the GNAC tiebreaker rules, Anna Maria earns the #4 seed in next week's conference tournament, St. Joe's will be the #5 seed, Lasell earns the #6 seed, and Suffolk will be the #7 seed.
The #6 Lasers will travel to #3-seeded Emmanuel College this Tuesday, February 25, for a quarterfinal contest at 5:30 p.m. The #5 Monks will visit #4 Anna Maria for a 7 p.m. match-up.
Junior Kevin Nunez (Dorchester, Mass.) led the Lasers against the Monks with 19 points and seven rebounds. Classmate Kevin Vanderhorst (Lawrence, Mass.) posted his 15th double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore EJ Day (Norwalk, Conn.) contributed 15 points, six boards and a season-high nine assists, and junior Jonathan Friberg (North Attleboro, Mass.) chipped in with 13 points and seven boards.
The Lasers led much of the first half, leading by as many as eight points on two occasions midway through the frame and holding a seven-point margin (36-29) after a Friberg three-pointer with 6:41 remaining. The Monks answered with a seven-point run to tie the game, and scored the final 10 points of the half to hold a 48-38 margin at the intermission. Casale had 25 points at the half for the Monks, while the Lasers had a balanced attack as Friberg had 11 points and Vanderhorst and Day added 10 each.
Lasell worked back to within six points (59-53) with 13 minutes left in the second half, but that's as close as the Lasers would get. It was a 12-point margin at the midway point (69-57), and the Monks led by as much as 20 points (82-62) with four minutes to play.
Tuesday's playoff game between Emmanuel and Lasell will be a rematch of the regular season contest, which was the GNAC opener for both schools, and Day hit a baseline jumper with two seconds remaining to help the Lasers pull out a 69-68 victory.
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