Willis’ Career-High 31 Powers Men’s Basketball Past Medgar Evers in Home Opener

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Junior Alec Willis' (Staten Island, N.Y./St. Joseph by the Sea) career-high 31 points helped the St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) men's basketball team build a lead that grew to as many as 15, but after Medgar Evers stormed back to take the lead in the waning minutes, Aaron Parra's (Brooklyn, N.Y./Monsignor McClancy) free throws with 24 seconds left followed by Stephane Etheart (Hollis Hills, N.Y./St. Francis Prep) steal-and-layup with six ticks left, sealed a 77-74 triumph over Medgar Evers College on Saturday afternoon. The victory was the first for the Bears this season and the fourth straight over their Brooklyn rivals.

The Basics

  • Final Score: St Joseph's 77, Medgar Evers 74
  • Records:  St. Joseph's (1-3), Medgar Evers (1-3)
  • Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Arena: The Hill Center
  • SJC Starters: Willis (G), Giles (G), Idyahia (G), Parra (F), Meiner (F)

Turning Point

  • After seeing a 15-point second-half lead vanish, the Bears buckled down as the teams traded the lead four times over the final two minutes. Aaron Parra sank two at the line with 0:24 to give SJC a 75-74 lead and with the Cougars having possession and the shot clock turned off, Etheart intercepted a pass from the right corner and went coast-to-coast, increasing the Bears lead to three with six ticks left.

How it Happened

  • Willis scored eight quick points and Joseph Idyahia added six as they combined for four treys over the first five minutes to raced out to a 20-5 lead and never trailed in the half.
  • Willis' fifth three-pointer of the half at the buzzer sent the Bears into the lockers up 39-30 with the junior captain netting 17 points at the break, just two shy of his previous career best.
  • St. Joseph's appeared to maintain a comfortable lead throughout the second stanza. The Cougars cut the Bears lead to four just three minutes in, but the Bears responded with a 13-2 run that increased the advantage to 55-40 at 12:58, matching their largest lead of the first half.
  • With the Bears lead remaining in double figures for most of the period, Medgar Evers made a late push behind 13 points from Justin Sutton that sparked an 18-2 run to take their first lead of the game, 72-70, with 1:49 remaining.
  • After three more lead changes, Parra's pair from the charity stripe gave the Bears the lead back for good and Stephane Etheart's steal helped seal the win. Maurice Swaby II had a good look at a 24-footer to tie at the buzzer, but it would be too strong and the Bears would survive the late scare.

For the Bears

  • Junior Alec Willis led all scorers with a career-best 31 on 12-of-17 shooting and 6-of-7 from behind the arc, also matching his career high.
  • Sophomore Aaron Parra finished with 13 points on clutch 11-of-12 shooting from the charity stripe, and 9-of-10 in the second half.
  • Senior Christian Giles directed the offense with eight points, all coming unblemished from the free-throw line, and handed out six assists.
  • Freshmen Kavan Meiner and Stephane Etheart and sophomore Joseph Idyahia all contributed six points each. Meiner grabbed a team-high seven boards and Etheart secured six with a trio of steals.

Inside the Box Score

  • After Alec Willis' layup with 8:12 to play, the Bears did not have a field goal until Stephane Etheart's steal-and-layup with six ticks left.
  • St. Joseph's shot 19-of-21 (91 percent) from the free-throw line in the second half to preserve the victory. The Bears finished at 77 percent (27-35) for the contest while the Cougars managed just 11-of-19 (58 percent).
  • Both teams combined for 19 three pointers with the visitors draining 11-of-30 (37 percent) and the Bears sinking 8-of-18 (44 percent).
  • Both squads combined an equal 20 turnovers each and converted it into 28 points.
  • The Bears led for 37:53 of the contest with the Cougars holding on to the lead for just 0:38.

The Bear Facts

  • St. Joseph's wins four straight over their Brooklyn rivals and improves to 7-6 in the all-time series.
  • The Bears have won all three home openers at The Hill Center since the grand opening in December 2014.

Next up for St. Joseph's

Riding their first win of the season, the Bears will open Skyline Conference play on Thursday, December 1st, welcoming South Division favorite Farmingdale State College to The Hill Center. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. with live stats and video on SJCBears.com.