St. Joe’s-La Salle LIVE game blog

5:52- And there he is!! Martelli calls time with 57.6 and inserts Brown for O’Brien, much to the delight of his sizable cheering section in the crowd. He manages a rebound, but misses the put back before Martelli calls timeout to get his two senior starters out for a standing ovation. The Hawks run out the clock, the ball in Brown’s hands, with a 74-59 win and a berth in the A-10 Tournament. Postgame comments momentarily.

5:50- Jones does it again with a stop-and-go move that gives him a lane to the hoop to stretch the lead to 16. Williams answers with a bucket, but Govens gets hacked by Mekongo, his fifth foul, and makes one of two to restore a 15-point spread. I hear chants of “WE WANT C.J.”!

5:49- La Salle commits its 12th turnover of the night as Giannini turns to his assistants and claps in resignation. Murray’s three-point attempt doesn’t help matters, and sends the normally boisterous coach to take a seat for one of the first instances all night.

5:46- Williamson hits two free throws out of the break, and Grant nearly strips Jones after Mekongo misses a three. But Jones instead heads to the line, and hits both to stretch the lead to 14, the biggest margin of the day, 71-57.

5:43-  JONES TO THE BUCKET! He hits a lay-in driving right to left, up and under a defender to move the margin to 10 at 67-57 with 4:09 to play. As Bill Raftery would say, “a little early onions from the youngster!”

He’s got 12 off the bench, one of four Hawks in double-figures today. The score stays that way into the final media timeout with 3:39 to play.

Also, in Amherst, the Rams hold a slim 50-47 lead. And the Explorers’ postseason hopes.

For more play by play, click here…

5:41- The Hawks are in the bonus, and head to the line after Barrett fouls out with 4:50 left on an over-the-back-foul. He finishes with 15 points, and gets a nice ovation from the St. Joe’s faithful for a gutsy performance. Hilliard hits both free throws, and the Hawks surge to a nine-point lead.

5:39- Green hits a jumper from the corner to cut it to six, but Williamson answers with a drive to put the Hawks up 63-55 with 5:15 left.

5:37- Barrett picks up his fourth foul trying in vain to keep up with Jones on the way to the rim, but stays on the court with six minutes left. Williams also picks up his third trying to stop a nice set up for Baptiste by Williamson, but he misses both from the line, and picks up a foul on the other end to boot. Hawks still up eight with five and a half to play.

5:35- Baptiste does well to deny Green in the lane and forces Williams to alter his shot out of the timeout. Jones responds by coming up short on a three, but Hilliard keeps the ball alive off an Explorer, and gets rewarded by hitting an 18-footer to push the lead to 11. Barrett answers with a three, his fifth on the day 10 chances. 15 points for the hobbled Explorer.

5:32- Jones hits both, and the lead bungees  back to 9, 59-50. The combination of Hilliard and Baptiste earn a tie up, and but La Salle retains possession on the other side of the media timeout, with 7:34 to go.

I’m just going to say this, but as a St. Joe’s fan, I don’t know that you feel all that comfortable with this margin. Seems like the dam is just barely holding back the torrents. We’ll see…

5:30- And they do just that with Jones finding a streaking Williamson for a lay-in. But Barrett answers with a three from the left wing, and picks up his third foul on the ensuing trip. Mekongo then picks up his fourth trying to stop a blow-by from Jones, bringing Williams back into the game mere moments after sitting down for a breather.

5:26- The Explorers come up empty out of the timeout, and Hilliard breaks out a nice head fake to get Murray in the air before laying it in to stretch the advantage to eight. But O’Brien picks up his fourth foul in questionable fashion on the defensive end and his replacement Baptiste also gets whistled for one seconds later, but the Explorers don’t capitalize on the trip. St. Joe’s calls a timeout on the offensive end after Jones gets trapped in the corner. SJU has a chance to extend it back to double-digits, up 55-47 with 9:07 to play.

5:24- Murray picks up his third foul on the other end, and Williamson hits both this time. There has been only four total fouls called this half, so foul trouble shouldn’t be that much of an issue (at least not yet). Giannini calls a timeout with his team on offense, down 53-47 and 10:33 left.

5:22- Williamson hits both to stretch the lead to six, and Murray earns a trip to the line on the other end courtesy of O’Brien’s third foul. The Hawks have stuck with the zone today, with La Salle taking well over half its shots from three (23 from 38). They’ve made eight of those 23 attempts. Murray makes both to cut the lead back to four.

5:18- The teams trade turnovers in transition in an ugly and alliterative sequence before Williamson drives at Murray and finds O’Brien for a jumper in the lane. But Barrett answers with a three from the left wing this time to cut the lead to four. He has nine points on the day to lead the Explorers.

Williamson sends things to the under-12 timeout with a drive to the bucket that sends him to the line on Green’s second foul. The Hawks lead 49-45, with 11:23 to play and free throws forth coming.

5:16- The Hawks can’t get anything done out of the timeout, without Hilliard flinging up an 18-footer with just a few seconds left on the shot clock, but he keeps the ball alive for Jones, who arcs in a three from the left wing. Govens has one go halfway in and out from the same spot the next time down, but Green makes no mistake by hitting one his end to keep the lead at 5, 47-42.

5:12- A drive by Williams cuts it to eight, and a three from Barrett’s favorite right corner pares the lead to just five points with 14:35 left to play. Phil Martelli wants to talk things over in an extended timeout with the under-16 timeout slow to come. St. Joe’s still leads, but only by five now, at 44-39 with 14:35 left. It takes just 15 seconds before a ball bounces off a La Salle player, and sends us to the real under-16 timeout.

5:10- Green flushes it in transition before Govens delivers a few head fakes for a step back jumper from 15. I think the switch to mesh sneaker from his black Nikes with the white swoosh is what turned things around for him.

5:07- Crosgile dices through the lane with a nifty up and under that earns him a lay-up and a trip to the line thanks to Mekongo’s third foul. He can’t convert from the line, but he has the Hawks back up 10.

5:05- St. Joe’s has the ball to start the second, with both teams fielding their starters. Both teams miss on their first two possessions inside of 34 seconds. Govens then misses a three before Mekongo hits from the right wing to cut the lead to eight, 38-30.

5:00- Also, foul trouble may come into play here, as both team’s big men have picked up some personals. Todd O’Brien has two, while three of LA Salle’s starting bigs- Mekongo, Jerrell Williams, and Aaric Murray all have two.

Oh, and if there are any La Salle fans out there reading this, you’ll be happy to know that Rhode Island is up 33-27 over UMass at the half. If things stayed this way, the Hawks would go to the tournament as the 11 seed, and La Salle would sneak in as the 12.

4:58- It was pretty much the Darrin Govens show at the end of the first half, with the senior scoring 14 points, including four threes in his last five attempts in the final first half of his St. Joe’s regular season career. Idris Hilliard added seven points and six rebounds, while Garrett Williamson had six points and Carl Jones five. Justin Crosgile had four assists in the first 20 minutes for the Hawks, who had nine assists on 12 made field goals against just one solitary turnover. The were 9-15 from teh line, which may come back to bit them.

For La Salle, the two surprise seniors have just eight points between them (five from Yves Mekongo, three from Kimmani Barrett). Mekongo’s got four boards, while Barrett is just 1-5 from three. Steve Weingarten is keeping them in it with eight points and four rebounds off the bench. Rodney Green, the leading scorer among active A-10 players, had a quiet half by his high standards with just five points on 2-6 shooting and 0-3 from three. They have nine turnovers so far, and are just 4-17 from three. La Salle, despite having the height advantage, only has a slim 20-18 edge on the glass and a 12-10 for points in the paint.

For first half action, click here…

4:49- Williamson’s 38-foot bid at the buzzer clangs off back iron, but the Hawks still go into halftime with an 11-point lead. First half stats in a bit…

4:47- Weingarten hits a three, but Govens responds with another from the right wing, this time on just one leg. The Explorers misfire in their next possession, and the Hawks call timeout to talk strategy, their first of the game, with 46.4 seconds left in the first and an 11-point lead, 38-27.

Also, the women’s score is in, as St. Joe’s falls 87-85 to Charlotte in overtime. What a heartbreaker for the resilient Hawks; we’ll have a full recap later on in the day.

4:45- Remember what I said about Govens about 15 minutes ago? Forget it. He hits his third three, and after a turnover by Williams, Jones hits a Pat Calathes patented “No, No, No, Yes!” three in transition. Dr. John Giannini wants to talk things over with the Hawks up 35-24 with 1:40 left.

4:43- Mekongo now picks up his second, and Govens hits one of two from the line. He leads all scorers with eight, but the Hawks have already missed six attempts from the charity stripe in 15 chances.

4:41- You’ll all be happy to know that Michael J. Hagan’s son, Micheal, Jr. won the timeout contest to make four shots for five free burritos from Qdoba. Not that his father couldn’t buy Qdoba if he tried. Guess he’s tired of that NutriSystem Mexican fare (joke courtesy of Tom Hagan to my right).

4:40- Govens has another now, this one off a tough pass from Crosgile on the left wing that he has to grab with his fingertips before placing it through the cylinder ever so smoothly. The Explorers turn the ball over, and we head to the final media timeout of the first half with St. Joe’s up 29-22, 3:22 left.

4:39- There’s a trifecta from Govens, who hits from the top of the key. He puts St. Joe’s up 26-22 with just over four minutes to play.

4:38- Govens missed another three, his third of the game, and Green answers on the end by using Baptiste’s back off an inbounds play to sent up his first field goal of the game.

4:36- O’Brien quickly accrues two fouls, and has to sit in favor of Baptiste, while Govens commits the team’s first turnover of the day, giving Green a run out that has to be closed down by a Williamson foul. Green hits one of two from the line, and the Explorers are within three, 23-20, with five and a half to play.

4:34- Interesting that Crosgile has been the team’s main ball-handler throughout today, especially since Williamson has already passed up a number of open three-point looks. Williamson could have a hard time driving against this long, lanky zone team, so you think it would behoove them to give Crosgile Garrett’s open looks from three.

4:31- St. Joe’s, on the other had, has already chucked up eight threes today, connecting on only one. Both teams are 7-20 from the field, but St. Joe’s has committed just one team foul to the Explorers’ seven, while they haven’t turned the ball over yet. It’s La Salle ball after a questionable jump ball call out of the under 8 timeout, the Hawks up six.

4:30- La Salle commits its sixth turnover already against the Hawks’ zone defense, which is almost daring the wounded Explorers to try their luck from three. Rodney Green hasn’t gotten on the board yet, but he does feed Mekongo for a turnaround finish to cut the lead to six, 23-17.

4:29-Murray now has two fouls with exactly nine minutes left after a loose ball foul from a missed three by Reed-Barrett in the corner, basically the only spot he’s traveled to on the offensive end tonight. It puts the Hawks in the bonus, and Bryant Irwin hits one of two to push the lead to eight.

4:27- Murray draws a double team when he gets the ball 12 feet from the goal with his back to basket, misfiring on a hook shot. He’s late on help defense on the other end, setting Williams up for his second foul of the game and some time on the pine. Williamson hits both, and the Hawks are up seven, 22-15.

4:24- Carls Jones and Baptiste are in the game now, and Jones celebrates by hoisting a three that hits nothing at the end of the shot clock straight out of the timeout, but hits one his next time down to put the Hawks up five. But Kimmani “Willis Reed” Barrett its a triple on the other end, his first in four tries to cut it back to three.

4:22- Parrish Grant tries to join press row while breaking up an attempted pass on the wing, taking us to the under 12-media timeout with SJU up 15-12.

4:20- Grant and Williams hook up for an alley-oop after Crosgile hits a jumper from the elbow, but Govens responds by setting up Hilliard for a teardrop from the lane that also earns him a trip to the line for an old-fashioned three-point play. He can’t convert though, but the Hawks still lead 15-12 with 12:23 to play.

4:18- Mekongo hits  a three to tie things up, but O’Brien responds with a lay-in, and Williamson adds another to finish a snaking drive to the hoop the next time down to put the Hawks up 11-7.

4:15- Steve Weingarten and Parrish Grant are in for a normally thin Explorers team. Even with their two injured players back, they only figure to roll nine or ten guys.

Meanwhile, Crosgile has a three go in and out, but O’Brien rips a board away from an Explorer and earns a trip to the line courtesy of Murray’s block attempt. O’Brien misses one of two though, and the Hawks are only 5-8 from the line to start. They’re 1-8 from the field, while La Salle has only two makes in now nine tries after Williams’ attempted lay-in bounces off the rim.

4:13- Murray gets hacked by Govens heading into the first media timeout; the Hawks still lead 6-4 after a thoroughly unimpressive first 4:05.

4:11- Barrett has a second three go in and out, and then can’t rise to challenge a jumper in the lane by Govens without fouling. He hits one from the line, Hawks up 6-4 with 16:45 left in a ragged game that hasn’t started with any sort of flow or pace to it.

4:10- I’m intrigued by this zone from La Salle, as it’s like a 2-1-2 that becomes a 2-3 or 3-2 depending on ball location. It works for Hilliard, who grabs an offensive board and hits a free throw to put the Hawks up 5-4. Devon White replaces Mekongo.

4:07- Barrett’s first shot is a three that comes up waaaaay short; he’s getting nothing out of his legs.  Murray cleans up the mess, but Williamson drops in two free throws on the other end to but the Hawks up 4-2, 18:57 left to play in the first.

4:05- Hawks win the tip and are greeted by a high 2-3 zone by the Explorers that leads to an ill-advised three by Govens very early in the clock. But Mekongo does the same at the other end before Hilliard hits a lay-in in transition; Hawks up 2-0 early.

4:02- Starting lineups now, as La Salle opens with Jerrell Williams, Yves Mekongo, and Aaric Murray up front, with Rodney Green and Kimmani Barrett.  Pretty well-kept secret there by the Explorers. It’ll be interesting to see what each guy is able to give them today.

The Hawks go with Hilliard and O’Brien up front, Williamson, Crosgile, and Govens in the backcourt. No luck for CJ today, but there is a lot to play for.

3:56- Another question to ponder is St. Joe’s starting lineup on this day of celebrating seniors. With the high stakes, don’t expect Phil Martelli to allow what took place last year, when Govens surrendered his place in the starting lineup for outgoing senior Edwin Lashley’s first career start. We’ll see if Justin Crosgile is allowed to do the same for Brown.

3:52- It’s time to honor the seniors now, as university president Timothy R. Lannon, S.J., Director of Athletics Don DiJulia, and Head Coach Phil Martelli are awaiting first the three managers, Keesling, Porth, and Ryan, the Hawk. CJ Brown’s parents are ready to meet him, as are Darrin Govens, followed by team captain Garrett Williamson. They’re also greeted by roll-outs from a somewhat sparsely populated student section.

3:46- First big of possible news is that we’ve got both Barrett and Mekongo warming up for La Salle today. Both Murray and Mekongo  are wearing number 12 warmups, though Murray is distinguishable as towering over the other Explorers. His fingers are heavily taped, but it’s not his shooting hand, so we’ll see if he can go. The media notes from La Salle list him as being out one to two more weeks, but he’s on the court now. I’m kind of hoping he doesn’t play so I don’t have to type that name all night.

Barrett is due to be out one to three more weeks, and looks much more tentative hoisting up threes on his bad foot. Guillandeaux, you’ll be happy to know, is still sporting his usual street clothes.

3:42- You can’t talk about La Salle this season without talking about injuries, and the absence of three double-figures scorers from last year, all of whom are seniors, for 45 total man games certainly qualifies as a major epidemic. The team that was though to be ready to challenge for an A-10 crown was dealt an early blow when sharpshooting senior Ruben Guillandeaux went down with a foot injury in November that has limited him to just four games all season. Kimmani Barrett was next to visit the MASH unit, thanks to a bad wrist and then a foot injury that has the lanky guard sidelined for the season. And just under a month ago, Yves Mekongo also hit the injured list with a broken pinkie finger that required surgery. They combined to average 33.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 6.5 assists this season. The 2,839 career points sitting on the bench in those three seniors and roommates is the largest total in the nation, over 650 points more than the nearest competition.

3:40- Well, this one’s for all the marbles, oddly shaped and poor quality though they may be. There are three teams alive for the final two spots in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, and two of them are on the floor right here. The Hawks, Explorers, and Massachusetts all sit at 4-11 in conference vying for the 11th and 12th seeds to the A-10 mini dance. UMass is also tipping off at four against Rhode Island, who themselves are in a battle for seeding atop the A-10, and we’ll keep you updated on the progress of that game as best we can.

Here’s how things shake out:

The winner of this game is in, no ifs, ands, or buts. UMass is also in a win-and-they’re-in scenario. St. Joe’s must win if they want their season to continue. La Salle, meanwhile, can back in with a loss provided UMass falls to the Rams, as the Explorers hold the tiebreaker over the Minutemen thanks to two wins this season, including an 89-78 triumph midweek. UMass can also back in should they lose and La Salle wins because they hold the tiebreaker with two wins against St. Joe’s earlier this season.

While the stakes are high, today is also a celebration of the Hawks’ three senior players and three senior managers. Brit Keesling, Molly Porth, and Brienne Ryan, who’s currently serving as the Hawk mascot, will all be taking their last bows tonight, as will Garrett Williamson, Darrin Govens, and CJ Brown.

The Hawks are coming off their first conference road win of the season and first road win outside of Philadelphia after handling George Washington on Wednesday, 80-71. Four starters finished in double-figures, led by Goven’s game-high 19 points. Idris Hilliard added 17 on 8-11 shooting, while Williamson came close to a triple-double with 11 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists. Justin Crosgile also had 11 points, while Carl Jones chipped in nine off the bench.

Rodney Green celebrated his senior day in style on Wednesday’s win over UMass with 30 points. He and Ricky Harris traded buckets throughout, and while Harris got the upper hand with 31 points, including eight threes, the Explorers got the win. Jerrell Williams added 14 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists, while Aaric Murray chipped in 13 points, and Steve Weingarten had 13 off the bench.

We’ll have all the senior day festivities soon, and then tip-off just a bit after 4.

Hello, and welcome to the Hagan Arena for tonight’s season finale between the La Salle Explorers (12-17, 4-11 A-10) and the Saint Joseph’s Hawks (10-19, 4-11 A-10). I’m Matthew De George, and I’ll be with you the whole way live with all the action.

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You can’t talk about La Salle this season without talking about injuries, and the absence of three double-figures scorers from last year, all of whom are seniors, for 45 total man games certainly qualifies as a major epidemic. The team that was though to be ready to challenge for an A-10 crown was dealt an early blow when sharpshooting senior Ruben Guillandeaux went down with a foot injury in November that has limited him to just four games all season. Kimmani Barrett was next to visit the MASH unit, thanks to a bad wrist and then a foot injury that has the lanky guard sidelined for the season. And just under a month ago, Yves Mekongo-Mbala also hit the injured list with a broken pinkie finger that required surgery. They combined to average 33.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 6.5 assists this season.

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