Entering their contest with UMass, the Hawks had won five in a row and 12 of their last 13 games and had shown few signs of slowing down.
Against the Minutemen, Saint Joseph’s would overcome early shooting struggles and a one-point halftime deficit on its way to a 78-70 win to improve to 17-3 overall and 6-1 in Atlantic 10 play.
While the end result was one the Hawks were content with, the game was not without its hiccups.
“We left a lot of plays out there and we will have to be better across the board,” Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli said.
The Hawks’ poor shooting would continue throughout the half, as they went to the locker room at the break trailing 30-29, thanks largely in part to a 10-for-32 shooting effort from the field and 2-for-12 shooting from three-point range.
Things would begin to improve in the second half for Saint Joseph’s, however, with the Hawks opening the half on a 17-5 run to take a 46-35 lead.
The Minutemen would continue to threaten throughout the remainder of the contest, but would get no closer than within four, as the Hawks picked up a 78-70 win to improve to 17-3 on the season.
Saint Joseph’s was led in the contest by senior Isaiah Miles, who recorded 27 points and 12 rebounds in the win, while DeAndre’ Bembry added 13 points and nine rebounds.
“It’s his work. It’s his dedication. The assistant coaches staying with him and working him all Spring and Summer and in the Fall,” Martelli said of Miles’ success. “He’s a shining example of what a senior can do. There’s other guys who shrink and fake their way through it. He didn’t fake his way through it. He wanted something. He wanted to leave a certain mark and he’s certainly done that for 20 games. We’re guaranteed 12 more. Can he be better?”
At 17-3, the Hawks have flown a bit under the radar, receiving just scattered votes in national polls. But to them, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“Going under the radar is a good thing as well, because we don’t want to be as hyped up as other teams are,” Miles said. “But yeah, I think we’ve been under the radar a lot and some national attention wouldn’t hurt. I definitely think these guys earned it.”
For Saint Joseph’s it’s more about continuing to do what they’ve been doing: win.
“We’re going to continue to play our game and continue to win games,” Miles said. “As long as we continue to play the way we’re playing, we’re going to get that national attention. But we don’t even think about that. We’re just worried about winning games.”
The next test for Saint Joseph’s comes Saturday, when they visit Rhode Island.
By: Kyle Babcock
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