WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The Brandon Gade era got off to a roaring start as five players scored in doubles figures to propel the University of Saint Joseph basketball team to a 78-46 victory over the Bay Path Wildcats in its season opener at home on Tuesday evening. The victory is the first for Gade as a collegiate head coach and it marks the fourth time in the past five seasons the Blue Jays have won their season opener.
Junior Rajeen Mayo (Middletown, CT) led all scorers with a game-high 19 points. She finished 7-of-17 from the field and was perfect from beyond the arc connecting on all three of her attempts. She was joined in double figures by seniors Elisha Pertillar (Windsor, CT) and Carlee Putnam (Niantic, CT), junior Kayla Guest (Newington, CT) and freshman Charlotte Eberhardt (Thomaston, CT).
The Blue Jays got off to a sluggish start as Bay Path raced out to an early 8-0 lead over the first four minutes of the first quarter. A pair of three-pointers by Brenna Roy (Stafford Springs, CT) fueled the Wildcats early lead. USJ would battle back to tie the game 11-11 following a three-point play by Mayo with 3:34 left in the first period. However a late surge by the visitors would give Bay Path a 20-16 edge at the first break.
USJ would settle in though and dominated the second quarter outscoring Bay Path 28-11 to take a 44-31 lead into halftime. USJ used a 13-3 run over the final 3:20 of the quarter to build the halftime lead and it was capped off by a buzzer beating layup by Putnam just before the intermission.
In the second half, USJ really picked up the defensive pressure as they would limit the Wildcats to just 15 total points, while forcing 15 turnovers, over the final 20 minutes of action. Guest, who was held scoreless in the first half, started to display her dominance down low, powering the Blue Jays to a 64-39 lead at the end of the third quarter with a team-high seven points.
Bay Path would cut the Blue Jays lead to 68-46 halfway through the fourth quarter, but that would be as close as they would get for the remainder of the contest. USJ would hold onto its comfortable lead and cruise to a 78-46 victory.
Mayo led all scorers with a game-high 19 points. Pertillar was perfect from the floor going 6-for-6 and finished with 15 points, Putnam sunk 13, Guest had 11 and Eberhardt added 10 in her first career game as a Blue Jay. As a team, USJ shot 46.4% (32-69) from the field, 57.1% (4-7) from distance and 71.4% (10-14) from the line in the win.
Roy and Dallas Jackson (Springfield, MA) led Bay Path with 12 points apiece. Aaliyah Gordon also finished in double figures for the visitors adding 10 points. Bay Path shot 29.5% (18-61) from the field, 38.5% (5-13) from three and 38.5% (5-13) from the charity stripe in the setback.
USJ dominated the battle inside outscoring the Wildcats 44-14 in the paint and held a 47-39 advantage in rebounding. Pertillar, Putnam and sophomore Dhimitra Hatika (South Windsor, CT) each had eight rebounds to lead the way for the Blue Jays.
Bay Path next will play at the Mustang Classic hosted by Mount Ida College on Saturday at 7 pm. The University of Saint Joseph basketball team will be back in action next when they host the USJ Tip-Off Tournament this coming weekend, November 18-19. USJ will faceoff with Fitchburg State in the opening game of the tournament at 6 p.m. inside the O'Connell Center.
Story contributed by the University of Saint Joseph Sports Information Department