NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Junior forward Kyle Booth (Northfield, Vt.) led a trio of scorers in double-digits with a career-high 26 points, but Norwich faltered down the stretch in an 89-81 loss to the University of St. Joseph (Conn.) in Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) action on Saturday afternoon at Andrews Hall.
Norwich (3-12, 0-2 GNAC) and St. Joseph (13-2, 1-0 GNAC) battled back and forth throughout the first 15 minutes of the game. There were four ties and seven lead changes in the early moments of the first half.
An 8-2 run by the visitors capped by an and-one scoring play from Ryan O'Neill gave the Blue Jays their biggest lead of the game at the 4:24 mark as they went ahead 38-30.
Thanks to some timely shooting by senior forward Dan Bertrand (Saugus, Mass.) who canned back-to-back triples late in the period and a fast-break floater in the paint as the horn sounded at the end of the stanza, the Cadets were able to remain within seven at the break, 47-40.
Norwich remained unfazed by one of the top-scoring teams in the GNAC as they continued to press the Blue Jays with drives into the paint which created additional opportunities at the free-throw line.
USJ built up its lead to 10 points at 59-49 following Taelon Martin's three-point play after being fouled in the paint at the 13:31 mark of the second. The visitors were able to maintain that 10-point cushion for the next five minutes until the Cadets used a 7-0 run punctuated by a deep three-pointer from Booth to close the gap to 70-67.
After trading several baskets, the hosts clawed back to within one point when sophomore forward Donovan Lewis Jr. (Savannah, Ga.) nailed a pair of free throws to make it 74-73 with 5:10 remaining.
USJ cemented the win with a back-breaking 7-0 run over the next several minutes to take an 84-75 lead and then made its free throws down the stretch to collect its first GNAC win of the season.
Norwich did an excellent job protecting the ball committing a season-low 11 turnovers. The team was able to push the ball in transition to register 12 fast-break points but were outworked on the boards surrendering a 50-39 edge on the glass.
Booth's 26 points paced the Cadets' offense while Lewis Jr. posted career highs in both points (19) and rebounds (13) making his presence well-known in the paint. Sophomore guard Caleb Casinas (Aiea, Hawaii) also scored in double figures with 14 points. Bertrand led the reserves with eight points.
Jordan Powell notched a double-double for the Blue Jays with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Jaecee Martin scored a team-high 22 points while O'Neill and T. Martin added 17 and 14 points, respectively.
Norwich will return to action next Tuesday as the Cadets remain at home to host Lasell. Tip-off is slated for 5:30 p.m.