The Saint Joseph’s Hawks finished their west coast trip at the Wooden Legacy with a 77-74 win over the Georgetown Hoyas last night. This was a bounce back win for Saint Joe’s as they ended a three game losing streak, coming the day after a 70-55 loss to the USC Trojans in the first round of the Wooden Legacy.
Throughout the game Saint Joe’s matched Georgetown shot for shot, keeping the Hoyas at a minimum four to five point distance. One stat that illustrates this was the fact that Saint Joe’s led the game for 34 minutes, while Georgetown had the lead for only 2 minutes. In addition, at one point Saint Joe’s had grown their lead to 13 points in the first half of play. While Georgetown was able to crawl back and tie the game half way through the second quarter, Taylor Funk and Jordan Hall made sure to match Georgetown bucket for bucket when it mattered. As Georgetown inched back, thanks to the offensive and defensive play of Guard Dante Harris, both Hall and Funk came up with big shots to stave off the Georgetown run. Every few minutes the Hoyas would find a five or six point run to close the gap, only for Funk to step up with a huge three point shot to give Saint Joe’s a four point lead.
While Saint Joe’s did keep the Hoyas at a safe distance for the majority of the game, it still came down to the last shot. Georgetown hit a critical three with only a few seconds left. They then sent Cameron Brown to the free throw line with 0:06 remaining. Unfortunately, Brown missed both free throws, giving Georgetown a chance to tie the game with a three point shot. However, with time winding down, the Hoyas were unable to get a shot off thanks to the defense of Jack Forrest, ending a brutal three game losing streak for Saint Joe’s.
Hang Taylor Funk’s Number in the Rafters
Taylor Funk was the highlight of the game for Saint Joe’s. The red shirt senior forward scored a season high 29 points; shooting 9-11 from the field an 8-10 from beyond the three point line. Funk also finished the game with seven rebounds and stepped up the defensive intensity by grabbing four steals. Those four steals tie his single game personal record, which he obtained against UCF in 2018. Ejike Obinna was another stand out, as he provided critical inside scoring early which forced the Hoyas to focus on protecting the paint, giving Funk more room to operate from beyond three.
Obinna finished the game with 17 points on 6-11 shooting. He also was 5-7 from the free throw line, taking advantage of the free points Georgetown was giving him. Obinna has established himself as a legitimate scoring threat down below. Before the season many questioned if the 6’10 transfer would have the chops to be a real scoring option for Saint Joe’s. In fact, Obinna has gone above and beyond expectations. He isn’t just a guy who is going to score eight points on a few alley-oop dunks. Instead, he is a pick and roll threat who also has a nice bag of tricks in the post. After scoring 17 against Georgetown and 18 against #24 USC, it is safe to say Obinna solidifies Saint Joe’s scoring inside the paint going forward.
Winning Fixes Everything
While there are still some questions around Saint Joe’s, there were many positive takeaways from this game. First, Saint Joe’s controlled the game from the start. Lange went for a defensive three quarters press, which brought great ball pressure and intensity to start the game. Additionally, Saint Joe’s minimized turnovers and committed 15 to Georgetown’s 14. Saint Joe’s also kept the rebounding margin to within one, grabbing 36 rebounds to the Hoyas 38. Finally, what worked the most was the offense. Yes, the team struggled from outside three, by shooting 34% from three for the game. However, the team shot 46% from the field in total, and 58% from within the arc. Saint Joe’s found consistent scoring inside and moved the ball well as they finished with a season high 18 assists. If there is one thing Saint Joe’s fans can feel good about it’s that even when the team missed multiple wide open threes, they still found a way to match Georgetown scoring by manufacturing points inside the paint.
With an aggressive defense to start, an ability to consistently score, and a focus to have better ball control, Saint Joe’s was able to overcome a solid Big East team. While it is important to consider that Georgetown is not the number one team in the Big East, A10 fans must remember that they are 108 in Kenpom. Beating a team on the cusp of 100 makes it a good road win for Saint Joe’s, a team ranked all the way at 218 in Kenpom. It is true that Saint Joe’s is not a world beater, but with a win like this the team has stabilized the ship and corrected course. Ending the season at .500 is still in play for the Hawks, as long as they continue to work and find the effective rotations for their respective opponents.
Saint Joe’s next game is against Binghamton, which will be played on Wednesday December 1st. The game will be hosted in Hagan at 7:00pm, and will be air on ESPN+.