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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Men’s basketball opens season with 77-76 win

The Saint Joseph’s men’s basketball team opened its season with a 77-76 win against the University of Toledo Rockets on Nov. 12.

“I thought it was really enjoyable game to be a part of because the lead was changing, we had to make some calls, we had to make some adjustments,” St. Joe’s Head Coach Phil Martelli said. “I like that. I’m fine with that. Now, I’m more delighted with it that we won.”

Junior Shavar Newkirk and sophomore tri-captain Lamarr Kimble dominated the scoring for the Hawks, combining for 44 points on the night. Both of the guards set new career highs in points: Newkirk had 28, and Kimble had 16.

Last season, Newkirk and Kimble split time at the point guard position, and didn’t often play at the same time.

“It’s a great feeling” Newkirk said of playing at the same time as Kimble. “Teams can’t really guard two point guards, so it’s a plus on us.”

Kimble started off the scoring with a layup less than a minute into the game. With the teams tied at four, Toledo senior Zach Garber starts a 10-2 run for the Rockets at the 17:33 mark. The Rockets led for most of the first half, though they never led by more than eight points.

With 9:06 remaining in the half, Newkirk hit a three-point shot to bring the Hawks to within one point, but Toledo answered back with a three of their own.

The Hawks spent the next seven minutes try to catch up to the Rockets, finally getting the spark they were looking for from freshman Charlie Brown. With 2:31 left in the half, Brown hit a three, which started a 9-3 run for the Hawks.

Twenty-five seconds later, junior James Demery stole the ball from Garber, ran down the court, and—spurred on by a screaming crowd—dunked the ball to tie the game at 37.

The Hawks finished off their run with a dunk from junior Jai Williams to tie the game at 40 points. However, the Rockets sunk a free throw with three seconds left in the half to take the lead going into halftime.

The second half was a tumultuous one, with 25 lead changes and aggressive play from both sides.

Demery scored six points in the first 2:20 of the second half for the Hawks. Demery had 11 points on the night, and all but one came from plays where he drove the ball to the net: three layups and two dunks.

“I said to [Demery at halftime], ‘Drive the ball to the basket. You don’t have to show anybody that you’re a jump shooter. Drive the ball to the basket,’” Martelli said. “In the first half, his brain was racing. We just had to slow him down.”

The Hawks took a 58-54 lead on a three-point play from Kimble with 11:16 left in the half, but the Rockets reclaimed the lead less than two minutes later.

Such was the tone for the next seven and a half minutes. St. Joe’s redshirt sophomore Markell Lodge—who had started the game, the first start of his collegiate career—hit a jumper with 1:42 remaining to definitively give the Hawks the lead.

“I thought, for the most part, except when we got fast, we were able to run offense and that’s a good sign,” Martelli said.

Newkirk followed with four straight points to give the Hawks a five-point lead, their larges of the night.

Toledo sophomore Jalen Sanford hit a three-point shot at the buzzer, but it wasn’t enough to defeat the Hawks, who came away with the 77-76 win.

“It’s a good thing, but that’s one out of 32 games,” Newkirk said. “It jump started the season. We got a great group of guys. Great, young guys, and we can score the ball.”

While Martelli was pleased with the win, he noted that the team needed to improve its defense moving forward.

“We have to be a much better defensive team than that,” Martelli said. “I thought there were a couple times where they played fast, and you’ve heard me any number of times, the game is for the quick, it’s not for the fast. There were a couple times I was like, ‘Woah. That ball wasn’t even in their hands,’ or ‘we didn’t even have the ball in possession yet.’ But, since August, I knew that was going to be the way we were going to play.”

The team went 17-28 from the free throw line, which is another area Martelli noted as needing improvement.

Demery finished the night with 11 points, eight rebounds, one block, and one steal. Robinson had seven points, three rebounds, and one steal in his collegiate debut. In addition to his 28 points, Newkirk also added 7 rebounds and a steal.

Also of note were Lodge’s two blocks, both of which came at important times for the Hawks.

“[Lodge had some] really good blocks, so it was okay,” Martelli said. “It was his first start. There’s a couple things as you watch him this year [like] the development of catching the ball. He dropped two dunks in the second half. Two stone cold dunks. And that would give us energy as much as the blocked shots.”

The Hawks will take on Columbia University on Monday, Nov. 14 at home before heading to the U.S. Virgin Islands to play in the Paradise Jam from Nov. 18-21.

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