College of St. Joseph's men's basketball team is poised to face Villa Maria College in the first round of the Northeastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference playoff tournament on Friday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m.
The two teams met on Jan. 20 in Buffalo, N.Y. and Villa managed a 102-87 win, though CSJ trailed by just two points at halftime. Kadeem Riddick was a huge force in the paint for the Fighting Saints, as he pulled down 16 rebounds in the contest, while also recording 12 points and three assists. Charles Isaac notched 24 points in the loss and Mickalous Snowden converted six 3-pointers for 18 points.
Villa's Dominic Douglas scored a game-high 33 points and also pulled down nine rebounds. Four other Vikings scored double figures against the Saints: DeJaun Owens (14), Daniel Thompson (13), Lonnie Taylor (12) and Jonathan Pozo (10).
CSJ nearly came away with a win over Vermont Technical College in their last regular season game on Feb. 13. Snowden netted 25 points, including seven 3-pointers, in the heartbreaking 79-75 loss to the Knights. Isaac posted 17 points, six rebounds and three steals and Tyreke Woodard recorded 13 points and six rebounds.
Most recently for Villa, the Vikings defeated the University of Valley Forge 81-72 on Feb. 15. Jay Scarbrough propelled Villa to victory with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Taylor scored 18 points and recorded eight rebounds and six blocks. Justin Stokes finished with 14 points, five assists and three steals.
The Vikings finished the year with a 22-5 overall record and 6-0 record in conference play. The season marks the Vikings' winningest in program history. Their perfect in-conference mark allowed them the #1 seed in the NIAC tournament. Villa Maria is ranked by the United States Collegiate Athletic Association as #3 nationally, and will have a place in the USCAA National Tournament regardless of the results of the conference tournament.
Villa Maria took losses this season against common opponents UMaine-Fort Kent, a 97-76 decision on Nov. 18, and Berkeley College, 94-82 on Jan. 27. The Vikings defeated conference opponent Fisher College 66-60 on Nov. 11 and 89-81 on Jan. 12. On Dec. 16, the Fighting Saints traveled to New York City to face Berkeley and fell 115-75. CSJ faced UMaine-Fort Kent on Jan. 12 and took a 90-75 loss. Due to unforeseen gymnasium damage the Saints only matched up with Fisher once in the 2017-2018 season, and fell 100-88 in a close contest on Nov. 29.
The Fighting Saints have been paced by Isaac, who contributes on both ends of the floor. He leads the team in scoring with 14.4 points per game and is second on the squad in three other categories: rebounds per game (4.6) and assists per game (2.5) and steals per game (1.0). Woodard is second on the team in scoring with 14.4 PPG and Snowden is third with 10.4 PPG. Trent Torain averages nine points, 4.5 rebounds and one steal and junior point guard Darrien White averages 4.5 assists per game.
Overall the Vikings are led offensively by Douglas, who records 17.7 PPG while also notching 6.1 RPG. Owens is scoring 15.6 points per game and shooting 43.1 percent from beyond the arc, and Taylor is averaging 12.7 PPG and 9.3 RPG. Rounding out the double-figure scorers for Villa is Scarborough, who averages 12.4 PPG and 4.3 steals per game.
The winner of Friday's contest will face the winner of the Fort Kent vs. SUNY Delhi game, which will be held previous to the CSJ vs. Villa match-up, on Saturday, Feb. 24 in the NIAC Championship game at 4 p.m.