PHILADELPHIA, PA. 11/18/2017 – The home opener for the Saint Joseph’s Hawks did not lack excitement. Neither team could establish a lead, and the game went back and forth. Finally, Saint Joseph’s broke ahead 48 – 45 behind a pair of three-pointers by Taylor Funk and rode it out with a 14 – 4 run to a 71 – 58 victory over the Princeton Tigers.
Funk had a career-high 23 points, and had 10 points in the deciding run. For the game Funk was nearly perfect from the floor making 7 of 8, 5 of 6 from beyond the arc, and made all 4 free throws playing 24 minutes. In three games the freshman has 61 points. Bernard Blunt holds the record for most points in the first three games with 67. That is quite impressive company.
“Something is going to happen,” Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli said about Funk being in the game. “When he raises up, I think the ball is going in. He’s so calm. It is something to see, and it’s what we see in practice.”
He will need to have more of a defensive presence. But that is for tomorrow.
Saint Joe’s other freshman Anthony Longpre also added double figures getting 10 points, a career-mark, and adding 6 rebounds. The young players put on a good show in their first Hagan Arena game.
“The two freshman, they have high IQ’s, they have confidence to shoot the ball, not just theirs, their teammates confidence,” Martelli said. “They weren’t in awe or enamored playing at home.”
The teams played very similar. At halftime the Hawks led 32 – 31. Saint Joe’s made 12 of 29 (41.4%) and went 6 for 16 from deep. Princeton was 10 for 25 (25%) and 7 of 17 from beyond the arc. The second half appeared to be going the same direction as each team could not gain more than a 6-point lead until the Hawk explosion in the last 10 minutes. Many factors came into play.
“Defense, rebounding, and we were able to stop Cannady, limit him from scoring the three’s,” said Hawk forward James Demery, who scored 13 points and had 2 steals. “In the second Shavar (Newkirk) did a great job of containing him more. I feel like that was the turning point for us.”
It was the first home game for Shavar Newkirk since being injured last season. He finished with 11 points and pulled down 4 rebounds.
“It felt good,” Newkirk said about his return. “We got the win that was most important. My play is going to continue to grow as I get more experience back on the court.”
Just like the Toledo game Saint Joe’s had 4 turnovers, 1 in the second half.
Princeton (0 – 3) was led by Devin Cannady with 22 points making 8 of 13 and 6 of 10 from distance. Myles Stephens scored 13 points and added a team-high 8 rebounds. Amir Bell contributed 15 points.
The Hawks (2 – 1) head to Anaheim, California to play Washington State in the Wooden Legacy over Thanksgiving.
The growing process continues.
Written By: Glenn Papazian