Trailing by five, 61-56, with 12:58 remaining, the St. Edmund Prep product responded with nine consecutive points in a 3:18 span, jumpstarting a 17-2 run that built a double-digit Bears (7-6, 5-5) lead they would never relinquish.
St. Joseph’s forced 16 Gryphon miscues in the second half, and gained a sizable 31-5 advantage in points off turnovers in the period and 49-14 for the contest.
Ranked second in the league in the category entering the game, the Bears +18 turnover margin and 20 steals are both season highs.
O’Neill also connected on 13-of-18 attempts from the line, both also career highs. He added eight rebounds and a game-high six thefts in a dominating all-around effort.
O’Neill’s 36 points matches the second highest tally recorded in Bears history matching Luke Caccavo’s 36 points against Medgar Evers in 2004. The all-time single game record is held by Bobby Knapp with 59 points in 1998.
Senior Jamir Archer scored 13 and grabbed 11 boards for his second consecutive double-double, and in his second career start, freshman Sean Salomons tallied career highs in points (11), rebounds (7), assists (3) and steals (3).
Alex Willis buried three from long range en route to nine points. The sophomore added four steals and a pair of helpers.
The Bears were scheduled to continue Skyline Conference play on Tuesday at SUNY College at Old Westbury.
Improbable win for women
Trailing by one with 1.1 seconds remaining, freshman Victoria Porcasi calmly sank two free throws after stealing an inbounds pass to lift St. Joseph’s College past sibling rivals St. Joseph’s (Long Island), 62-61, on Thursday evening to sweep the season series.
The Lady Bears trailed by five with 23 seconds left before staging an improbable comeback. An Erica Eddy three pointer with three ticks left cut the deficit to one before Victoria Porcasi stole the ensuing inbounds pass after a timeout and was fouled with 1.1 seconds remaining.
The second-best free throw shooter in the Skyline sank both for the victory and the Golden Eagles could only advance the ball to mid-court in defeat.
Porcasi led all scorers with 21 points on 5-of-12 shooting from behind the arc. The guard also grabbed seven boards and swiped three steals.
Destiny Marino compiled her fourth double-double of the season, finishing with 20 points and a season-high 14 rebounds, while Kristin Candelaria brought down 11 rebounds and rejected a game-high three shots. The forward secured double-digit boards for the second consecutive game and fifth time this season.
Riding a season-best four consecutive victories, the Lady Bears were set to hit the road with the men on Tuesday for a Skyline Conference tilt against SUNY Old Westbury.