PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (1/25/2012) – The Saint Joseph’s Hawks men’s basketball team looked for a bounce-back win and an end to a three-game losing streak. The stretch of basketball they experienced begged the question, we they good enough? The answer is a resounding yes as the Hawks defeated the Atlantic 10 league leader Dayton Flyers 77 – 63. This was a team effort, and Sophomore forward Ronald Roberts supplied much of the answer as he scored a career best 27 points making 10 of 11 field goal attempts and 7 of 9 free throw attempts. Roberts is a player whose contributions come off the bench.
“Ron starts,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli. “He wants to hear his name called, like every kid wants to hear his name called. Ron is an unbelievable listener and really takes it to heart whatever we bring to his attention,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli. “You’re talking about a guy who will be in the conversation and a leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year in a magnificent league. Some guys would pout, but that’s not the way he was raised. He is a special young guy, and I’m delighted for him to have success because he is such a good person.”
“I was confident shooting my shots,” said Roberts. “They were dropping. I was playing hard and with energy. My shots were going down, so I kept shooting.”
Roberts scored 22 points in the second half. He tallied the final 15 Hawk points of the game over the last five and a half minutes. Included in his run of points was a scramble where Roberts picked up a loose ball along the baseline, turned, and put up a desperation jumper that went in as the shot clock expired. With 2:28 to play Roberts took an inbounds pass from Sophomore forward Halil Kanacevic and streaked down the court putting in a windmill dunk, was fouled and made the free throw that gave Saint Joseph’s a 73 – 59 lead. That was one of his favorite dunks of the season.
Early in the game Dayton owned the boards and took a 32 – 27 lead into halftime. In the second half the game had a back and forth tempo to it. The tide would turn in Saint Joseph’s direction when Sophomore Center C.J. Aiken blocked a shot that started to give the Hawks some energy.
“It had something to do with a C.J. (Aiken) block,” said Martelli. “We hadn’t seen those kind of plays. He made a block, we had a run-out, and we had a little fire in our belly.”
Trailing 43 – 39 a that time the Hawks scored the next 11 points in the game. Roberts had the first two baskets in that span with a dunk and a follow-up layup. After a three-pointer by Sophomore guard Langston Galloway, Roberts threw down another dunk. That was part of a 21 – 5 run that allowed the Crimson and Gray to move ahead 60 -46 with 8:40 on the clock. Aiken added two baskets from beyond the arc, and his dunk at 6:31 was the last Saint Joseph’s points scored by a player other than Roberts.
“He (Roberts) played great, and I’m happy for him,” said Galloway. “That windmill, I’ve never seen anything like that. I’m very proud of him, and what he did.”
Saint Joseph’s had three other players score in double figures as Aiken had 14 points, Kanacevic scored 13 and added 7 rebounds, and Galloway contributed 1o points. Junior guard Carl Jones had 8 points and 8 assists. The Hawks tied a season-low with 5 turnovers, and tied a season high with 24 assists on their 29 baskets. The Hawks shot 70% in the second half making 21 0f 30 field goal attempts.
Forward Chris Johnson and guard Kevin Dillard lead Dayton with 17 points each. Johnson grabbed 8 rebounds while Dillard handed out 6 assists.
The Hawks even their Atlantic 10 record at 3, and move to 13 – 8 overall. Dayton is 4 – 2 in league play, 14 – 6 on the season. Next up for Saint Joseph’s is a city game at Temple. The Hawks can come to work in a positive mode. The streak is over, and it ended at the expense of the league leaders. Roberts knows that has a huge impact on the team.
“It’s really significant,” Roberts said. “Three (losses) in a row is too much. We had to play hard. The fans were really into it. They gave us a boost, and we played off them.”
And after the game he celebrated by joining his parents to go out and eat.
Written By: Glenn Papazian