Brooklyn, N.Y.– Late game heroics by the St. Joseph's-Brooklyn Bears (7-3) led them to a successful 69-66 debut in their new home, the Hill Center, over St. Joseph's-Long Island (5-5) in the annual "East vs. West" event. The game featured eleven lead changes and five ties to keep the jam packed SJC crowd on the edge of their seats.
The Golden Eagles had four double-digit scorers led by Sean McCarthy with 23 points. Billy Heenan had 16 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Andy Laurent chipped in with 13 points and Fernando Vazquez scored 12. Nick Gallina led all with ten assists.
Brooklyn also had four players in double-digits led by Alec Willis with 19 and Vernon Maddox with 18.
Back-to-back three's by Fernando Vazquez and Billy Heenan put L.I. out to a seven-point lead early in the first half and a Nick Gallina layup stretched it to nine for a 16-9 lead at 13:52. Sean McCarthy would follow a few moments later with a layup, was fouled, and then converted a free throw to put L.I. up 19-12. At 8:52 McCarthy hit a three to put the Eagles up by ten. Brooklyn put down a three of their own before Heenan again reset the score at 10-10 with a three of his own.
Minutes later, McCarthy hit his second three to put the visitors up 11, 30-19, forcing Brooklyn to call a timeout. Andy Laurent then hit a trey off a Gallina dish to stretch to a 13-point lead. Brooklyn did not roll over however, as they went on a 9-0 run to cut their deficit to 33-29 with 1:41 remaining in the half as Long Island's shooting went cold. Brooklyn then capped it off with a three by Vernon Maddox to pull within one, 33-32 with a little more than a minute to play in the half. The Golden Eagles called a timeout and Vazquez hit a jumper to end the half 35-32.
Coming out of the locker room following halftime, Heenan nailed a three to get the lead back up to five. That was followed by a Vazquez bomb - after Brooklyn had scored - to stretch the gap to six points and then a McCarthy three made it seven. Brooklyn would then hit two straight buckets to pull within two, 44-42.
From this point the teams played a game of one-upmanship as they leapfrogged each other several times. Brooklyn tied the score at 50-50 at 11:22 before L.I. pulled back ahead with a McCarthy layup. But then Brooklyn took the lead for the first time since the opening seconds as Alec Willis drained a three putting the score at 53-52. A pair of Vazquez free throws put L.I. back up 54-53. Brooklyn came right back with a Matt O'Neill bucket but McCarthy buried a three-ball to put L.I. ahead by two.
Brooklyn again answered back with a Vernon Maddux basket and a converted free throw to switch the lead once again, 58-57. McCarthy then put in another three as he was falling back into his bench to skip the Golden Eagles ahead 60-58. Heenan followed by hitting a three from the corner for a 63-58 lead. Brooklyn crept to 63-62 with two free throws then pulled ahead by one with a David Louison lay-in. Not to be outdone, Andy Laurent nailed a trey to put L.I. back up 66-64. The Bears' Maddox then drained one from the corner with 1:17 remaining for the one-point Brooklyn lead.
A last attempt at a jumper by Laurent failed with 13 seconds on the clock and the Golden Eagles were forced to foul. Brooklyn subsequently hit their two free throws, sealing the game, 69-66.
Long Island is now inactive until after the holiday break and will take on Sarah Lawrence in a Skyline Conference game at home on January 3 at 1:00 p.m.