Earlier this season the young Saint Joseph’s Hawks were playing hard, but the lack of success led to a lack of confidence. The feeling of confidence is growing, and it showed as Saint Joseph’s came back to tie the game with 1.5 seconds left, then hung on in overtime as the 12th seeded Hawks defeat the #4 seed Duquesne Dukes 93 – 90 at Boardwalk Hall. With the win Saint Joseph’s moves to and Atlantic 10 semifinal match up against Dayton. The Saint Joseph’s team has developed a belief that it can make a run in Atlantic City.
“It’s just more about confidence because we were a really young team and we got a lot of losses, but as we win, we get a lot of confidence with each other and learn how to play with each other even more,” said Hawk Freshman Guard Carl Jones who scored a game-high 28 points in the win. “The team is just more about confidence, knowing that we can win instead of thinking we can win.”
Saint Joseph’s began to build the in-game confidence as they took a 40 – 39 halftime lead. With 16:14 to play Jones hit a three-pointer to start the Hawks on an 11 – 3 run to move in front 60 – 50. In that stretch Jones scored 8 of the Saint Joseph’s points. But that confidence would be put to the test as Duquesne trailing by 67 – 56 at the 8:46 run would mount a comeback. The Dukes regained the lead at 69 – 68 on a layup by Forward B.J. Monteiro. The lead went back and forth. Tied at 74 Jones was trapped at halfcourt. Duquesne Guard T.J. McConnell stole the ball and took it in for a layup with 1:38 to go putting his team in front by 76 – 74. The Dukes had a chance to put the game away at the foul line, but Guard Sean Johnson made one of two free throws as his team held a 79 – 77 lead with 17 seconds on the clock. Duquesne kept pressing in the final frenetic final seconds of regulation. The ball was in the hands of Saint Joseph’s Senior Guard Charoy Bentley. He found Freshman Forward Ronald Roberts alone underneath the basket. The Roberts dunk tied the game with 1.5 seconds forcing the overtime.
“I think the biggest play of the game was Charoy Bentley keeping his head about him when all heck was breaking loose and he found Roberts for the dunk to tie the game,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli. “Otherwise, we were going to go home and, you know, woe-is-us type of thing. I thought Charoy gave us a senior moment.”
In the overtime Bentley made a shot rom beyond the arc to put Saint Joseph’s ahead 88 – 82 with 2:37 to play. Again, Duquesne did not quit. They pressured Saint Joseph’s and got to within a point at 91 – 90 on a layup by Forward Damian Saunders at the 9 second mark. Jones was fouled, and made both free throws with 8.2 seconds to play. Duquesne had one last chance. They worked the ball to McConnell who tried to fake Saint Joseph’s Forward Todd O’Brien, but he stayed in position forcing an off-balance three by McConnell that missed. The Hawks got their chance to play another game.
“We switched on everything and Todd O’Brien stayed down on a guard and never raised up, giving him (McConnell) a chance to jump into him putting the onus on the referees,” said Martelli.
Duquesne got 21 points each from Saunders and front-court mate Bill Clark. McConnell added 15 points. Saunders had a game-high 11 rebounds.
Roberts scored 19 points and pulled down 9 rebounds. Senior Forward Idris Hilliard contributed 18 points and 9 rebounds before fouling out. But Hilliard has another game to play as does the Hawks. That game will be against the #9 seed Dayton who beat top seeded Xavier 68 – 67.
“We may be young, but we got a lot of heart, got a lot of confidence, got a lot of belief in each other, and it’s coming out more and more with every win,” said Hilliard.
Turning Point of the Game
Duquesne keep pressing in the final frenetic final seconds of regulation. The ball was in the hands of Saint Joseph’s Senior Guard Charoy Bentley. He found Freshman Forward Ronald Roberts alone underneath the basket. The Roberts dunk tied the game with 1.5 seconds forcing the overtime.
Key Stat of the Game
Saint Joseph’s needed to make shots and did. In the second half the Hawks made 12 of 21 shots for 57.1%, and in the overtime made 5 of 7. Duquesne made 13 of 27 second half shots for 48.1%.
Key Players in the Game
For Saint Joseph’s – Carl Jones scored a game-high 28 points and pulled down 7 rebounds.
For Duquesne – Forward Damian Saunders scored 21 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. Saunders was credited with 2 blocked shots.
Point Where the Game Was Decided
When the final attempted three-pointer by McConnell bounced away giving the Hawks the win.
Thoughts and Musings
This game was the 300th coaching win for Phil Martelli. He was never a person who thought about such milestones. He always thinks bout the moment, one game at a time. He also thinks about his players. But upon getting win number 300, Phil was able pause and reflect for a moment.
“The day I got the job at Saint Joe’s, Jim Boyle said I hope you lose a hundred games, I hope you’re here long enough to lose a hundred games,” said Martelli. “I thought, Bo, he is a wacky dude, what would make him say that? Now, I realize to stay around long enough to lose a hundred games, that means they (Saint Joseph’s) have been pleased with what you have done. 300 to me is a tribute to the administration, to my Dad who doesn’t miss a practice or a game. To my wife and my family
It has been a wild ride with many moments of joy, and some disappointment. But it is a tribute to the man who made it happen.
Written By: Glenn Papazian