NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University Cadets started off their 2018 with a win over the Saint Joseph's (Maine) Monks on Saturday afternoon in Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) play.
Norwich came into the game seeking their first win over the Monks of Saint Joseph's College since 2011, and break the Saint Joseph's streak of 13 consecutive wins over the Cadets. They did just that, pulling out a 75-72 victory in an exciting, end-to-end marathon of a game.
The first half saw current GNAC Player and Rookie of the Week Jesse Davis (Woodinville, Wash.) lead the Cadets with 11 points in the half, helping the Cadets to a slim 36-34 advantage at halftime.
Both teams came out of the break with ferocious defense, holding each other scoreless for the first four minutes of the half before Mike Hogervorst (Leiden, South Holland, Netherlands) opened things up with a layup in the post. Hogervorst's bucket kicked off an 8-0 run that extended the Cadets' lead to 44-34 with just over 15 minutes to go in the half. The Monks came roaring back, however, slowly chipping at the Cadets lead until a Darian Berry 3-pointer cut the lead to 4 with 10 minutes to go.
The two teams went back and forth, trading offensive runs until Norwich opened up a 10-point lead with a mere 3 minutes to go. However, the Monks didn't give up that easy as the combination of Berry and Jack Casale scored the last 11 points for Saint Joseph's, and we had a 1-point game with 6 seconds left.
Senior Ryan Booth (Northfield, Vt.) stepped to the free throw line, hitting his first to make it 74-72 Norwich. His second shot clanged off the rim, was tipped up into the air by Kyle Booth (Northfield, Vt.), and then pulled down by Tommy Fitzgerald (Williston, Vt.). The 6-0 guard got up and over everyone for a phenomenal offensive board, and drew the foul to head to the line.
Fitzgerald hit his first attempt from the free throw line, making it 75-72 Norwich, but missed the second one. With 4 seconds on the clock, the Monks' 3-point threat Ian Mileikis pulled down the rebound and starting moving the ball up the court. It was a strong flashback for everyone of Mileikis' last second 3-pointer to down the Monks during the 2015-16 season, when he pulled down a rebound, ran the court, and hit the game-winner as time expired.
Unfortunately for Mileikis and the Monks, senior Zygimantas Sirvydas (Silale, Lithuania) also played in that game and wasn't about to let his team fall victim to the same play. Sirvydas swiped the ball from Mileikis as Mileikis ran full speed down the court, the buzzer went off, and Norwich wrapped up the 75-72 victory.
Mike Hogervorst led the way for NU, as the big man made just his second start of his injury-riddled season and tallied 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and a blocked shot. Jesse Davis put up 15 points before leaving the game early in the second half due to an injury, and Tommy Fitzgerald put up 6 points, 2 steals, and 7 boards, none more important than that final rebound.
Darian Berry led the Monks with 28 points on 11-19 shooting from the field, and Jack Casale poured in 16 points off the bench. The two teams were fairly even statistically, with Norwich holding a slight edge in rebounds (41-34) and field goal percentage (48.3%-45.1%).
The win bumps Norwich's overall record to 3-7 on the year and 1-1 within the GNAC and couldn't come at a better time, with the Cadets heading into a stretch of 8 of their 9 games this month coming against GNAC opponents. The Cadets will be back in action this Tuesday against the Rams of Suffolk University, set to tip off at 5:30 on the Rams' home court.