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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

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
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Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Off to a slow start

Junior Pierfrancesco Oliva looks to drive past his defender (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

Men’s basketball struggles in early season games

The Hawks traveled to California State University, Fullerton over the Thanksgiving break to compete in the men’s basketball Wooden Legacy tournament.

The Hawks lost their first round matchup against Washington State University 75-71, unraveling after going on a 30-2 run and erasing a 14 point lead at the end of the first half.

St. Joe’s then fell to an undermanned Harvard University team by a score of 77-71.

In their final game, St. Joe’s narrowly beat Sacramento State University, a previously 1-5 team whose lone win came against a Division II opponent. The Hawks rallied late and were able to pull off a 77-69 victory.

Their first game of the tournament came against a prolific three point shooting Washington State team. The Hawks started slow, but midway through the second half they began shredding the Cougars’ man-to-man defense.

After their slow start, St. Joe’s quickly erased a 14-6 deficit. A jump shot by sophomore Nick Robinson put the Hawks up by 20 points with 3:30  to go in the half after an astounding 26-0 run. The Hawks were up by 14 going into the second half, and looked like they would cruise to a win.

In the second half, the Cougars played a 1-3-1 zone defense that the Hawks were unable to combat. The majority of St. Joe’s offensive possessions involved passing the ball around the three point line and eventually settling for a three.

St. Joe’s inability to slash to the basket in the second half played into the hands of the sharp shooting Cougars. St. Joe’s drained six of their 20 three point attempts in the second half, while the Cougars went 10-15 from beyond the arc.

“You walk out of here shooting 34 three’s, that’s not our game,” Martelli said. “We have guys that should shoot them and we just kind of indiscriminately started putting the ball in the air.”

Even after surrendering a 20 point lead, the Hawks had a chance to win in the final seconds. Freshman Malachi Flynn buried a three pointer to put the Cougars up by two with five seconds left. St. Joe’s inbounded the ball and Newkirk dribbled the ball off his leg and out of bounds, effectively ending the game.

The Hawks’ next game was  against a Harvard team that was already down two starters due to food poisoning. St. Joe’s struggled to defend the post and shot an abysmal 26 percent from field goal range in the first half. Martelli was frustrated with his teams’ performance and overall effort.

“We had way too many empty possessions,” Martelli said. “We showed a lack of energy on defense that hurt us. Our team gave up too many points to their big men and we can’t be successful in the Atlantic 10 if we continue to play with these continuous mistakes.”

Defense has been an ongoing issue for the Hawks this season.

“We’ve been a little lackadaisical with our communication and in closeouts, and running people off the three point line,” Newkirk said following a game against Princeton University on Nov. 18. “We have to do a better job closing out on three point shooting teams.”

St. Joe’s never led in this game, partially due to the fact that they shot 20-31 from the free throw line as a team. The Hawks missed eight free throws in the second half, which is tough to swallow when they lose a game by six points.

The Hawks’ final game came against a Sacramento State team whose lone win occurred against a Division II opponent. Although they trailed for a large portion of the game, the Hawks were able to pull out a win.

Newkirk led the way with 22 points, followed by Funk and senior James Demery, adding 15 apiece.

Funk made two three pointers down the stretch to seal the victory, but the Hawks were still floundering on both sides of the ball. This was partially due to the loss of sophomore Charlie Brown because of injury, and a hobbling Newkirk.

Unfortunately, Martelli said Newkirk is not close to 100 percent, and  still has a long way to go before he can fully recover from his ACL injury.

Newkirk’s injury isn’t the only health problem St. Joe’s has been dealing with. Hours before the game against Princeton, St. Joe’s learned that junior guard Lamarr Kimble would miss the remainder of the season after reinjuring the same foot that abruptly ended his 2016-17 season.

St. Joe’s will enter the toughest stretch of their season over the next week. However, with the imminent return of Brown, St. Joe’s will add much needed depth on both ends of the court.

They will face Bucknell University on Nov. 29, and then square off against Big 5 rival Villanova University on Dec. 2, both on the road.

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