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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

Late season push


Men’s basketball on three game win streak

With four minutes and 12 seconds left in the second half, freshman Taylor Funk came off a screen and launched a shot from a couple of feet beyond the three point arc. The shot soared through the air, and with every rotation of the ball, the crowd began to inch to their feet.

As the shot fell, the arena erupted with energy, and a smiling Funk was helped up off the floor by an equally jubilant senior captain Shavar Newkirk after Funk was fouled on the shot attempt. Funk’s three was not only a dagger in the Hawks 82-75 victory over the Duquesne University men’s basketball team, but was also a record breaking shot for the talented freshman.

With his 72nd triple of the season, Funk surpassed sophomore Charlie Brown’s previous freshman record of 71 three-pointers from a year ago. Although he had a rough shooting night, going 2-10 from field goal range, Funk has garnered the confidence of coaches and teammates that comes with shooting nearly 40 percent from downtown.

“We always tell him if you’re open, ‘shoot it,’” senior James Demery said. “Just be confident in everything that you do. He’s contributed a lot, he’s made some big game threes and does so much. And we as a team acknowledge that, and that’s why he’s in the position that he’s in now.”

Newkirk led the Hawks in most significant offensive categories, and on the night he was honored for becoming the 55th Hawk to score 1000 career points during a matchup against La Salle University on Feb. 3, he demonstrated why he is such a dynamic scorer and playmaker. Newkirk dropped 26 points and went 7-15 from the field, while also dishing out 10 assists with no turnovers.

“I think any time your point guard walks out with 10 assists and no turnovers, that’s some game,” said head coach Phil Martelli.

Newkirk has been an offensive spark plug throughout the Hawks’ current three game win streak. He knows that this is his last opportunity to get to the NCAA tournament, so he plans to continue playing his game.

“In the beginning of the season, I put a lot of pressure on myself,” Newkirk said. “But then I sat down with my father and he said to just not worry about it, just play and your talent is going to speak for itself. So if you play, the team is gonna start winning, and ever since that I have just been playing better.”

According to Newkirk, Duquesne played a very physical game, particularly in the first half and the Hawks play some of their best basketball when playing physical teams.

“Honestly we play better when teams play physical with us,” Newkirk said. “It’s just part of our nature. We use that against them, and attack them.”

Newkirk credits his teammates for coming together over the past three games and stringing together three wins. They know what is on the line and have risen to the occasion.

“We all are coming together and we want to win the A-10 chip,” Newkirk said. “I basically told them [his teammates] the blueprint of what it takes to win: this is what you have to do. You have to put in extra work, and you can’t be ordinary. So I give credit to my teammates, they are putting in the work.”

Although St. Joe’s won the game, Martelli knows that the 14 turnovers the Hawks had and the mistakes they made in the last three minutes are a formula that will not work in March, and will only lead to disappointment.

“You have to play to what will be successful in March, and that last stretch of time will not be successful in March,” Martelli said. “Then we are going to be hanging our heads and saying ‘what if.’ We have enough what if games on our schedule already that didn’t go the other way.”

The Hawks defensive effort throughout the season has been inconsistent. The team has continually struggled to defend both the post and the perimeter, but according to Newkirk and Demery, the team is beginning to come together defensively.

“Communication has always been a big piece for our team,” Demery said. “When we lack communication, that’s when our defense is really off. But if we let eachother know that we have each others back, that’s what’s important for us to be successful on defense. We did a great job tonight.”

The Hawks will look to continue their momentum in the Atlantic 10 Conference as they take on George Mason University at home on Feb. 21 and Richmond University in Richmond, Va. on Feb. 24.

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