PHILADELPHIA, Pa. 12/25/2012 – The Saint Joseph’s Hawks men’s basketball team broke a 10 game losing streak against their city rival Temple Owls winning 82 – 72 at a sold out, raucous Hagan Arena. Sophomore forward Halil Kanacevic led the Hawks with 12 rebounds and 6 assists. Sophomore guard Langston Galloway scored a game-high 22 points making 4 from beyond the arc. The importance of finally defeating nationally ranked Temple, and sharing the Big Five title is part of Hawk history. This is a young team, but the significance of this win is not lost on the young players.
“I haven’t been around a long time, but you hear it from everybody from the alumni who won and the alumni who lost,” said Kanacevic. “You see players in the stands who bring back great memories of when they were on a winning streak. We aspire to get on that type of level. We have to start in the city first. Temple has beaten us the last times they’ve played us, so we knew especially at home we had to get the win.”
Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli knows it was a significant win against the league leader, and it was against a team that defeated them earlier this season.
“The significance is that we stared into the eyes of a champion,” Martelli said. “They are going to win the season, going to be a high seed, and a difficult out in March. They are going to Atlantic City with the idea of bringing home the gold trophy. The significance to me is the great home crowd got paid back.”
Saint Joseph’s went into the locker room at halftime with a 37 – 32 lead. The game turned in favor of the Owls early as the outscored the Hawks 15 – 4 to take a 47 – 44 lead with 14:37 on the clock. Saint Joseph’s began their comeback. Junior guard Carl Jones tallied 8 consecutive points with two three-pointers and two foul shots to give the Hawks the lead at 54 – 51 at the 10:52 mark. Saint Joseph’s turned up the defense. Temple tried to get the ball inside, but C.J. Aiken altered or blocked shots. The outside shots for Temple did not fall. Then the Owls got into foul trouble. Five Temple players including all the starters except for Senior guard Ramone Moore finished the game with 4 personal fouls. The Hawks never relinquished the lead. They expanded it to 14 points with 4:42 remaining in the game. The Hawks took the Owls out of their game.
“We got out of character, and what that leads to is really good offense by the opposition,” said Temple Coach Fran Dunphy. “In my mind your defense is predicated on how well you did on offense. You when shoot a good shot, you match up on the other end. We left Galloway a couple of times, Jones a couple of times. We didn’t pay attention to who we are too many times.”
Jones scored 18 for the Hawks as did Sophomore forward Ronald Roberts who also contributed 7 rebounds. Kanacevic scored 14 points to go along with his 12 rebounds. This was the seventh game in which the Staten Island native had a double-double which leads the team. Aiken blocked 5 shots.
Temple had four players score in double figures. Senior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and Senior guard Ramone Moore each scored 15 points. Graduate center Michael Eric contributed his fifth double-double of the season with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Junior guard Khalif Wyatt had 11 points.
Temple still retains the top spot in the Atlantic 1o standings with an 11 – 3 record. The Owls are 22 – 6 overall, but their 11 game winning streak is over, and this time did not escape like they were able to against La Salle earlier in the week.
“Human nature is that you get their attention after a loss than after a win.” Dunphy said. “You’d rather not learn from a defeat, you’d rather learn from a win. We didn’t deserve to win tonight. We weren’t tough enough, smart enough, knowledgable enough of who we are in order to win a game like this against a really good basketball team.”
“They just played better than us tonight,” said Moore.
Saint Joseph’s improves to 19 – 11 and got a big bounce-back win after losing at home earlier in the week against Richmond. The Hawks are 9 – 6 in conference, and still remain in contention for the first round bye in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
These two teams may meet again in Atlantic City. It would be an interesting game considering the rivalry, and the amount of respect that each Coach has for one another. The mutual admiration and respect is refreshing in college basketball, and is something to savor.
“That is a national level team (Temple), one of the best 15 in the country,” said Martelli. “I am going to be anxious to follow them. If we get another chance in Atlantic City, it will be worth it because no one runs a program or a team better than Dunph (Fran Dunphy). It’s an honor to compete against them.”
“That’s a really good basketball team that will make great noise going forward in our league,” said Dunphy.
Written By: Glenn Papazian