9:50- That’s it for tonight, as the Hawks escape the Hagan Arena with a hard-fought win. Join us on Saturday night at 6 p.m. from right here with all the action as the Hawks take on conference foe Dayton. Goodnight everybody!!
9:45- You’d hope it would be more comfortable for the Hawks, but in the end they were able to escape with a win tonight over Towson thanks to a strong second half. They outscored the Tigers 41-28 in the second stanza to reverse a six-point halftime deficit. The shooting effort was much better from St. Joe’s, who went 10-23 (43.5 percent) from the field, and five of 10 from three-point land. They also hit their free throws down the stretch, converting on 16 of their 19 trips to the charity stripe in the second half.
Idris Hilliard led the way for the Hawks with 20 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Justin Crosgile chipped in 13, the second straight game he has hit three threes, while Garrett Williamson, who played all 40 minutes, joined them in double-figures with 12. Darrin Govens managed nine points to go along with six assists despite a woeful shooting night (3-15 from the field, 2-10 from three), and Carl Jones had eight.
Todd O’Brien led the way on the boards, with 11 rebounds for a St. Joe’s team that held a 19-14 edge on the glass in the second half. St. Joe’s also committed a season-low tying eight turnovers.
“The players deserved to have something good happen to them because they really did a terrific job yesterday,” said Martelli, whose team held up nicely after a long Sunday that started at 4 a.m. when they arrived back from Olean and continued until past 11 p.m. thanks to academic meetings, video study, and practice. ” They needed something good to happen. When the ball didn’t drop in the first half, we sagged.”
The Hawks also stepped up the defensive effort after halftime, limiting the Tigers to just seven made field goals on 26 attempts (26.9 percent). They held Josh Thornton in check, who had just seven points in the second on 2-10 shooting and 1-6 from behind the arc. He finished with 23, while Jarrel Smith ended up with 17 points, 15 of which came in the second half. The Towson bench accounted for 44 of their 57 points, and no one other than Smith and Thornton topped four points on the day. Robert Nwankwo had 14 rebounds in the losing effort, while leading scorer Calvin Lee was held to just three points (1-7 shooting) and no rebounds in 28 minutes.
Martelli credits Prescott for a lot of that defense, as he helped quiet Thornton’s first half onslaught. But it was the offensive adjustment that also helped turn the tide. The Hawks had open looks in the first and struggled to connect, but four quick threes to open the second half created some gaps in the Towson zone defense, and with a little patience, gave Hilliard the room he needed to operate.
“It wasn’t really a change, but in the first it just felt like we were passing around the zone too much and not attacking it, so we came in at halftime said we had to attack the zone more, and we did that,” said Hilliard. “Once a couple guys started hitting threes, I caught the ball a couple times and was surprised I was so wide open.”
“I was pleased with the patience that we showed,” Martelli said. “We’re a team that wants to play obviously quicker, and I had a fear when we came in that with all that matchup that they do that we would just rely on jumper, jumper, jumper. In the second half, we made a concerted effort to put the ball in the lane. Idris had some good finishes in the bucket area.”
8:58- Williamson finds Crosgile on the inbounds, who heads to the line with 10.2 left. The frosh sinks both with much of a problem, and Thornton hurls and airball from deep to end the threat. Williamson dribbles out the clock on a 64-57 victory for St. Joe’s.
Final stats and post-game reaction in a few…
8:56- A great block on what looked like a wide open lay-in by Lee gives the Hawks the ball back, and precious seconds run off as the Tigers can’t get up to foul. Williamson hits two from the line, and while Thornton does hit a three with 11.7 seconds left to cut the lead to five at 62-57, it appears to be too little, too late for the boys from Maryland.
8:55- Govens misses a three, but Crosgile skies in on the weak side to calmly collect the rebound and smartly reset the offense. They milk another 25 seconds off the clock, and Hilliard earns a trip to the line for two shots. He converts both, and the Hawks are up six, 60-54, with 49.9 seconds remaining.
8:52- Prescott does a good job defending Thornton before fouling him on a three-point attempt. A very, very shaky call that has Martelli up in arms. But justice is served to a degree with Thornton hitting just two of three. Hawks up four, as Martelli elects to talk things over with 21 seconds left on the shot clock and 85 seconds left in the game; Hawks up 58-54.
8:50- Hilliard slams it home to up his total to 18 on the day, and Williamson’s shooting range makes a brief appearance to give the Hawks a 58-52 advantage, tying their largest of the game. Garrett has 10 on the day. Kennedy and his boys want to talk things over, using their third timeout with 2:07 left.
8:49- Remember, Towson has had trouble finishing games, a department St. Joe’s has nearly raised to an art form in recent years. The Tigers will need more from their starters late, who have just 13 points total (though Morris has been injured and limited to just three minutes).
8:48- Quick note on the crowd: not much to speak of in the student section. The lower level is pretty full, but the upper reaches are pretty sparsely populated. Also, no dance team tonight, which always takes some of the fun out of games.
8:45- Govens comes close, his 18-footer just rimming out, as does Thornton’s three on the other end. Jones misses a three, with much of the Arena thinking he was fouled in the attempt, and Thornton stays cold with a miss on a double-clutched trifecta attempt on the other end that goes out of bounds and sends the game to the last media timeout with St. Joe’s up 53-52, 3:02 left to play.
8:44- But Hilliard answers emphatically with a flush on the other end to regain the edge. Jarrel Smith travels with the ball on the ensuing possession, and Jones and Govens are back in with a chance for the Hawks to expand a one-point advantage, 53-52.
8:43- Both teams trade turnovers before Brown gets sandwiched between Hilliard and his head coach, Pat Kennedy, to earn a trip to the line. He calmly sinks both, his first points of the night, to put the Tigers back in front.
8:41- Nice feed from O’Brien to find Hilliard down low, who kisses a short hook shot off the glass. Idris has 14 tonight to lead the way for the Hawks, who are up 51-50. Martelli wants to talk things over, his second timeout, with 5:51 left to play.
8:40- Govens picks up his fourth foul with 6:20 left, meaning Prescott will have to take off his warmups for the first time this half. Jarrel Smith converts both ends of the one-and-one, and puts the Tigers back up, 50-49.
8:39- Jarrel Smith beats the 35-second clock buzzer with a three from the win with Williamson draped all over him. He’s been tremendous this half and his 15 points have the Tigers within one, 49-48.
8:37- Quick stat check: Towson holds a 32-8 edge in bench points, and all eight of those have come from Jones. Williamson hits one of two, and O’Brien fumbles a miss by Thornton out of bounds; Hawks up four
8:36- Jarrel Smith has picked up the slack with 10 this half, and hits two from the line to cut the Hawks’ lead to 3. Williamson heads to the line on the other side of the media timeout, up 48-45 with 7:56 left.
8:34- Thornton has gone cold by his standards, missing a 20-footer. He’s just 1-5 from the field this half with two points.
8:32- An alert play by Williamson, who spots a soft spot in the middle of the box of the box-and-one defense and hits an open Hilliard, who converts the hoop and the harm. Hawks now up five, 48-43.
8:31- We’re hearing a lot more whistles in this half, as the Hawks are already in the bonus and the Tigers are just one foul away (neither team was in the penalty in the first half). Both teams have been ugly from the line tonight, so it should be interesting. Meanwhile, Jones hits two from the stripe to put the Hawks in front, 45-43.
8:30- Polk makes two free throws to regain the lead, and Govens goes out of his way to botch a lay-up after a beautiful jump-stop and feed by Jones. But the freshman they call Tay earns a steal at the other end, and hits two free throws to tie things up at 43, 10:24 left.
8:28- Hilliard hits one of two to tie things up at 41. The Hawks are just seven of 11 from the line.
8:25- It’s becoming a three-point shooting festival, as Govens fires wide after a nice fast break decision by Jones, and Jarrel Smith does the same on the other end. Hilliard brings the offensive voice of reason by going strong to the hole, and earns a trip to the line courtesy of Polk. He’ll have two shots with a chance to give the Hawks the lead at the end of the media timeout; Towson up 41-40, 11:16 left.
8:24- Carl Jones joins the scoring part with a three, his first points of the game, to cut the lead back to one, 41-40.
8:22- Govens looks like he’s trying to assert himself offensively, hitting a three from the corner after a nice job by Jones attacking the elbow and dishing to the open man. Jarrel Smith responds with a three of his own; the big man shows some range and has eight this half.
8:20- A nice drive by Jarrel Smith earns him an old-fashioned three-point play and stretches the lead back to four. St. Joe’s answers with a turnover from Govens and another empty possession.
8:18- Govens finally hits a three to put the Hawks ahead, by Jarrel Smith answers to but the Tigers up again. Crosgile airballs a three, and matches it with a foul on the defensive end to send the teams to the first media timeout with Towson up 35-33, 14:23 left.
8:15- Just to revisit what I said earlier about St. Joe’s schedule: they are in the midst of a string of games where they have to make some noise if they have any hope of sniffing .500 (or possibly qualifying for the A-10 Tournament) this season.
The stretch started with Fordham, and continues until the end of the month with a date at Duquesne. It also includes the trip to Rhode Island, at St. Bonaventure, Towson, Dayton, at Penn, Massachusetts, and at Duquesne.
No one expected this team to beat URI at the Ryan Center, but none of the other games are out of the realm of possibility. A win over Dayton would take a gargantuan effort, but the team that played against Villanova could get it done. Fordham was a win, and St. Bona should have been, while St. Joe’s in theory should be able to dispose of Towson at home and Penn at the Palestra. Realistically, 5-3 would have been a good result from this stretch, and the Hawks have already dropped two. Hence the must win tonight.
8:12- Things heating up a bit as Crosgile hits a three and Williamson converts two free throws around a basket by Thornton. Thornton misses a three the next time down the court, and Crosgile makes a nice move to get by his defender and lay the ball in off the feed from Williamson. Towson calls a timeout to slow things down a bit with the Hawks cutting the lead to two, 33-31, 16:49 left.
8:07- Second half is off to a slow start. O’Brien makes one of two free throws, while Lee, who’s been quiet an well below his team-leading average of 12.9 points per game, hits his first field goal of the game.
8:02- Here are your halftime stats; it’s not looking good if you’re wearing crimson and gray. The Hawks are shooting a paltry 29 percent from the field (9-31). They are an atrocious 2-15 from three-point land (13.3 percent), and can only muster a 3-6 performance from the charity stripe. Idris Hilliard has a quiet eight points to lead the Hawks, while Justin Crosgile has six (all in the game’s first two minutes) and is the only Hawks to drain a three tonight. Todd O’Brien is 0-4 from the field, but does have six rebounds, while Darrin Govens has two points on 1-7 shooting, including 0-5 from three, though he does have four assists. Chris Prescott and Carl Jones are a combined 0-6 from the field, all heaves from three-point range, with a single point between them (belonging to Jones).
Towson aren’t exactly lighting it up either so far, going 11-30 (36.7 percent) from the field and 4-11 (36.4 percent) from three. Josh Thornton has been the only capable of scoring consistently for either side, with 16 points on six-of-nine shooting. Isiah Philmore has four points to go along with six rebounds for the Tigers, who held a handy 23-16 advantage on the glass in the opening stanza.
7:49- The Hawks come up with a nice defensive stop and hold for the last possession, a horribly orchestrated effort that starts too late in the clock and ends with a three-point effort by Govens that off back iron and out. An ugly half shooting for the Hawks, who trail by six, 29-23, after the first 20 minutes of play.
7:47- O’Brien earns a trip to the line after failing to convert a dunk, and makes one of this two. It’s the seven-footer’s first point of the game, and closes the gap to six, 29-23. Towson calls their second timeout to discuss strategy with 48.4 seconds left.
7:43- An update on the injury situation: For Towson, Brian Morris is back out of the locker room and sitting on the bench. He’s got his warm-up tom on and has been flexing his left leg, and didn’t get up for the team huddle at the last timeout. I wouldn’t expect to see him again before halftime, and probably not for the rest of his stay in Philadelphia.
As far as Irwin goes, he looks pretty comfortable on the bench sandwiched between Mike Auriemma and Temi Adebayo. Don’t expect him to get up from that seat tonight either.
7:41- I don’t know if the Hawks are amped up or nervous or what, but they’ve had three straight shots clang off back iron. A lay-in off the glass by Williamson makes sure it isn’t four in a row, and after a tie-up on the other end, the Hawks head to the under-four media timeout down 27-21.
7:39- Prescott has bricked two straight line-drive threes, and though Thornton’s magic touch runs out for his latest attempt, a running 17-footer, Philmore is there to clean up the mess uncontested. Martelli calls his guys over to talk things over, with his team down 27-19 with 4:24 left in the half.
7:38- I think Thornton is feeling it. He just hit a fall-away jumper with Williamson in his face, and put up five fingers for the crowd on his way down the court. He’s got 16.
7:36- Hilliard does a nice job to get open and hits a eight-foot jumper on the baseline get the Hawks back within two at 21-19. St. Joe’s has done a nice job of finding seems in this Towson zone, they just haven’t converted on their opportunities.
7:32- Thornton drains his fourth three of the game. The senior from Rochester, N.Y. is the Tigers’ second-leading scorer, but is only averaging 11.8 per game. He’s got 14 already tonight. The Hawks’ own offense has stagnated somewhat, and they head into the under-eight media timeout down 21-17, 7:38 left in the half.
7:28- A monster swat by Carl Baptiste gets the fans up and cheering, but another basket by Thornton, this time of the two-point variety, brings them back down to earth. Towson up 18-15.
7:26- Thornton hits his third three of the half, giving the Tigers their first lead of the game, 16-15, with 10:42 left.
7:24- Just as I compliment them, Jones and Prescott miss consecutive open threes from the corner, but Williamson redeems the offense by driving through a void on the baseline and slamming it home. Towson takes a timeout, their first, to talk over the defense; Hawks are up 15-13 with 11:11 left in the half.
7:23- Jones makes one of two from the line, while O’Brien comes back in for Govens. Jones got to the line on a nice cut to the basket; it looks like the Hawks are doing a solid job so far of finding the holes in Towson’s box-and-one defense.
7:20- Josh Thornton its two straight threes, the second one banked home, to draw cut the lead to 10-8 SJU. A try at a third straight goes long, and leads to a lay-in by Govens to bring the lead back to 3 with 13:06 left to play. Carl Jones and Chris Prescott check in for Crosgile and O’Brien.
7:15- Nwankwo misses two free throws to continue the Tigers’ early shooting woes. It’s St. Joe’s ball at the under-16 minute timeout with the Hawks up 8-2, 15:57 left.
7:14- Crosgile finds a soft spot in Towson’s defensive look, which may have been a poorly organized zone, but that might be giving them too much credit. He’s got six, and the Hawks are up six.
7:13- Towson ends up with a shot-clock violation for their fourth empty trip. Morris is injured on the play, and heads straight to the locker room, replaced by Josh Brown. I didn’t see what happened, but he did go off under his own power. Always a good sign.
7:12- Crosgile drains a three from the corner to put the Hawks up 5-0 two minutes in. They’ll need a consistent performance from at least one of the freshman guards tonight, and the young man from Paterson, N.J. looks like an early candidate.
7:10- Towson wins the tip, but Nwankwo can’t convert a hook shot (I’m going to have fun typing that all night; I’m contemplating just copy/pasting it the entire game, especially as he averages 30.9 minutes per night, the second highest total on the team). Hilliard knocks down a jumper from the elbow on the other side of the court to give the Hawks the early lead.
7:06- Lineups now:
The Tigers roll out RaShawn Polk and Brian Morris in the backcourt, while Isiah Philmore, Robert Nwankwo, and Calvin Lee make up the small but athletic frontcourt.
The Hawks go with Todd O’Brien and Idris Hilliard down low, with freshman Justin Crosgile joining seniors Garrett Williamson and Darrin Govens in the backcourt. Bryant Irwin was originally supposed to be out tonight due to a concussion he suffered against Rhode Island that forced him out of the St. Bonaventure game, but he’s suited up and went through warmups looking alright, so we’ll see what happens with him as the game progresses.
6:55- For those of you not familiar with Towson, and I’m assuming that’s most St. Joe’s fans, they’re a team that’s better than their record indicates. They enter the game sporting a 4-12 record and have only one win in their last eight outings. That win, though, was their last time out at Delaware, the Tigers’ first conference win in 7 Colonial Athletic Conference games.
But the Tigers do have a number of close defeats in that loss total. They held an 18-point lead at Dayton late in November, but couldn’t hold on for the win. They also stuck close to George Washington and were tied with just over a minute left, but were again unable to close the deal. Their only common opponent with St. Joe’s is Drexel, who narrowly escaped Towson with a 52-49 win.
As for the Hawks, this game has to fall under the category of a must win. Head coach Phil Martelli emphasized using the non-conference games interspersed during the Atlantic 10 slate to build momentum for his young team, and their’s no better time than the present with Dayton coming to town on Saturday for a date on national tv (ESPNU, 6 p.m.)
The Hawks come in as a struggling side as well, with just one win in their last five games. They squandered an opportunity for a precious road win in conference their last time out, blowing a double-digit lead at St. Bonaventure, breaking a 15-game winning streak against the Bonnies. The Hawks have a relatively easy part of their schedule coming up, with dates against Penn and some conference strugglers on the horizon, so a little momentum heading into those games will be crucial.
Lineups and tipoff in just under eight minutes.
6:30 Good evening, happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and welcome to the Michael J. Hagan Arena for tonight’s men’s basketball tilt between the Saint Joseph’s Hawks and the Towson Tigers. Tip off is schedule for 7 p.m., and we’ll be bringing you live coverage starting just a few minutes before tip-off. Stay tuned for all the latest.
-Matthew De George ’10