PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/3/2018 – The Saint Joseph’s Hawks began the home portion of their conference schedule contending with the Havoc of the VCU Rams, playing the first A10 road game. Saint Joe’s came in losing 4 of the last 5 games. VCU won the last four outings. Both streaks are history as Saint Joseph’s wins 87 – 81 in overtime. A dramatic way to break a losing skid and give the team a boost.
“That’s a big lift,” said James Demery. “I am glad we stepped up and congratulate the team. I’m proud of my team.”
“We kept our energy going and didn’t slack off. That was a great team win. Everybody stepped up. It’s a team game and a big win for us.”
It was a back and forth game with both teams getting runs and droughts. The Hawks took the lead with 4:08 to play on foul shots by Demery, 2 of his 13 points. SJU did not fall behind again, and survived a Rams run that tied the game at 76 on a layup by Jonathan Williams at the 10 second mark. VCU had a last shot, a three-pointer that went in, but was released a tick late by Justin Tillman, who scored a game-high 22 points. On to overtime.
The Hawks took the lead in the extra period on three free throws by Taylor Funk, who scored a team-high 19 points. Later in the overtime Funk would make a dagger three from the corner with 1:40 to play that gave SJU a 84 – 78 lead.
Saint Joseph’s went to the line 38 times in the game making 29. VCU got to the charity stripe 7 times converting 5. The Rams turned it over 20 times, but the Hawks could only get 9 points off turnovers. They did not make VCU pay for their mistakes.
“I take the win, and no one’s getting it back, there were positive plays, but we can’t walk out of here and say that was picture perfect, it wasn’t,” Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli said.
Demery scored 13 points which propelled him past the 1,000 career-point plateau. Pierfrancesco Oliva added 15 points and 7 rebounds. Shavar Newkirk scored 12 points and had 5 assists. Nick Robinson scored 13 points, 11 from the foul line.
Tillman added 12 rebounds to record his 6th double-double of the season. He is averaging 22 points and 9 rebounds over his past eight games. De’Riante Jenkins added 16 points and 5 assists.
Saint Joseph’s (9 – 6, 1 -1) gets their first conference win and take the home court against St. Bonaventure on Saturday. The key for the Hawks is to improve and keep it going.
“I take the win as a positive and for forty-five minutes to compete,” said Martelli. “We did a lot of things not championship level. The only way we can do this is to take every Atlantic 10 game and compete at a championship level, and execute at a championship level.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian