PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/30/2016 – The Saint Joseph’s Hawks were struggling. Then at the end of the first half their leading scorer Shavar Newkirk was going in for a layup that would have cut the deficit to four points. He went down suffering a left knee injury and did not return.
At halftime Coach Phil Martelli told his team “compete!” That’s all, that simple. The Hawks responded and earned a 68 – 63 win over the George Washington Colonials in the Atlantic 10 opener for both teams.
“It was next man up,” said guard Lamarr Kimble about how the team reacted to Newkirk not being there. “Everybody nodded it was next man up. We have a lot of people who don’t get time and were able to get a shot.”
Trailing 35 – 29 at halftime Saint Joe’s came out spirited, competitive, taking a 49 – 48 lead on a Lamar Kimble old fashion 3-point play at the 10:39 mark. It became a back and forth battle. Late in the game the Hawks got a three from forward Charlie Brown, who scored 13 points, to take a 64 – 63 lead with 2:25 to play. The issue tilted in Saint Joe’s favor at the 32 second mark when Kimble hit a deep three-pointer late in the shot clock with Colonial forward Yuta Wantanabe running at him for a 67 – 63 advantage.
“Javon (Baumann) set a great pick and I stepped behind with confidence,” Kimble said. He blocked my shot a few times, lesson learned, and I was able to get that one off and it dropped.”
The contribution of Kimble came from the intangibles he needed to provide in Newkirk’s absence.
“You expect him to want to take that big three,” Martelli said about Kimble. “Where he led was where you wouldn’t see it. He led in huddles, he led when you gather for foul shots. I was more impressed with his leadership.
Kimble led the Hawks with 15 points making 5 of 16 from the floor, 1 of 4 from distance with the last one being critical, and 2 for 5 from the charity stripe. Newkirk scored all his 10 prior to the injury.
“He’s not a good shot taker, but he has to take shots until we balance this out,” said Martelli.
Three areas that Saint Joe’s over came were three-point shooting, rebounding, and free throw shooting. The Hawks were outscored 36 – 15 from beyond the arc. It is interesting to note that the last two SJU baskets were three-pointers. GW guard Jaren Sina scored a game-high 15 points, all from distance. The Colonials were 12 for 26 from the arc while the Hawks were 5 of 14.
On the boards George Washington owned a 49 – 29 advantage, 18 – 8 on the offensive glass. Tyler Cavanaugh pulled down a game and season-high 13 rebounds. Colin Smith added 11. Forward Markell Lodge led Saint Joe’s with 6 boards.
The Hawks missed 10 free throws (9 for 19), but the Colonials were 7 of 7. Not allowing foul shots helped to minimize the damage for SJU.
Despite those numbers Saint Joseph’s (7 – 5) is 1 – 0 in the conference.
“This was one of our best wins against a great team,” Kimble said.
Newkirk came back to watch the game from the team bench. He will have an MRI on the knee, but he wanted to be out there with his teammates.
“I am proud of them,” Newkirk said about his team. “They showed toughness and how Saint Joseph’s fights back.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian