For the third time in the last four tries, Saint Joseph’s defeated a ranked opponent as the Hawks won an exciting game against #20 Notre Dame at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn during the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
Up 37-36 at the half, St. Joe’s overcame an 8-point deficit late in the second half to force overtime. The Hawks outscored the Fighting Irish 13-4 in the extra period aided by Notre Dame star forward Jack Cooley fouling out. Junior forward Ron Roberts paced SJU with 21 points, including several thunderous dunks, and 16 rebounds, 8 of which were on the offensive side.
Team captain Langston Galloway overcame a poor shooting night by his standards as well as the loss of a tooth after a scramble for a loose ball to tie the game up and force overtime. He finished with 13 points on 5-13 shooting and “worked on every single possession” as coach Phil Martelli put it in his press conference.
After Monday night’s opening blowout of Yale in which the team looked sluggish at times, Saint Joseph’s looked much more cohesive in a half-court offense led by much improved sophomore guard Chris Wilson. Wilson played aggressively but smartly while scoring 19 points and committing only 1 turnover in 41 minutes of play and helped lead the Hawks to an amazingly efficient 1.23 points per possession. Senior point guard Tay Jones will be back for tonight’s tilt against Florida State but Wilson is likely to get the starting nod again after his fine performance against the Irish.
If there was one thing to cause worry in the minds of Hawk faithful, it was the many wide-open looks Notre Dame had from 3-point range. Defensively, St. Joe’s is still getting used to the three bigs lineup of Halil Kanacevic, CJ Aiken, and Roberts which has left open looks for opposing shooters over the first two games. Fortunately for the Hawks, Yale and Notre Dame have failed to capitalize on many of these but the three must improve at switching on the perimeter as Phil Martelli alluded to after the game.
Tonight’s championship game at Barclays against Florida State starts at 9:30 PM EST.