In their first game back from a Covid break, the Saint Joseph’s Hawks upset the La Salle Explorers with a 91-82 overtime win. This was the second game between these two Big 5 rivals. The game was also the first conference win for a struggling Saint Joe’s Hawks. The Hawks had a 0-9 Atlantic 10 record heading into the game.
This matchup had everything fans could hope for. From coaching ejections, to buzzer beating shots, this game had all the drama of proper Big 5 basketball. The only thing that could have made it better was if the game was played at the Palestra!
The Return of Ryan Daly
The Hawks were led by Guard Ryan Daly who made his return after missing several weeks from a wrist injury. Daly, who led the Hawks in scoring, finished the game with 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Daly seemed to not miss a beat and had his way driving in the lane all game long.
In addition to Ryan Daly’s exciting return, Saint Joe’s received a major contribution from freshman phenom Jordan Hall and Forward Taylor Funk. Taylor Funk finished the game with 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Jordan Hall finished the game with 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. This was Hall’s first triple double at Saint Joseph’s. This incredible performance from Hall could not have come at a better time. It was announced on the broadcast today that Greg Foster Jr and Jack Forrest would be out for the remainder of the season. In order for SJU to get the win, the Hawks needed big games from Hall, Daly, and Funk.
Winning is Everything
In addition to a triple double, Hall hit a critical tying basket at the end of regulation. The freshman grabbed a missed free throw by Sherif Kenney, and drove ball down the court. In what was a very strange moment, all five La Salle players watched Jordan Hall charge past them and down the court. Hall penetrated to the rim with little trouble and had clear look at a layup. Sheriff Kenney then attempted to block the shot at the last minute. However, Kenney ended up goaltending Hall’s layup. The refs counted the basket and sent the game into overtime.
Once in overtime the Hawks took command of the game. Their defense was stifling. Saint Joe’s gave up only three points in the final three minutes of overtime. In addition to the great defense, Hall, Funk, and Daly all did their part to lead the offense on a 14-3 scoring run in overtime.
In the end, the Hawks earned a well deserved win. After coming close in so many games this year, Billy Lange finally saw his team triumph as the winning team of a close game. Over the past few weeks fans on twitter have been saying that the Billy Lange hire was not the right decision two years ago. However, this win should quite those skeptics. What we saw today shows that the despair on Hawk Hill is not what people make it out be. Hopefully, Saint Joe’s can continue to build off this momentum and finish the season on a positive note.
La Salle’s Luck Runs Out
On the other side of the ball, La Salle’s Coach Ashely Howard faced more technical foul issues. For the second time this season Coach Howard was ejected from an Atlantic 10 matchup. With 3:44 left on the clock in the second half, Coach Howard could be seen yelling after no foul was called on a Christian Ray shot attempt. After the shot attempt, and the subsequent rebound, the refs called the play dead and assessed Coach Howard his second technical.
As this was Coach Howards second technical foul, he was required to leave the gym for the remainder of the game. In my opinion, if Coach Howard was on the sideline for overtime, the game would not have unraveled the way that it did. Unfortunately, La Salle was caught in overtime without their leader and their productivity on the court showed it.
However, outside of Coach Howard’s ejection, La Salle did have solid contributions from both Christian Ray and Jhamir Brickus. Ray led La Salle in scoring, finishing the game with 18 points, and 11 rebounds. In addition, Jhamir Brickus finished with 17 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds.
One thing that was worth noting was La Salle’s departure from the 3/4 court press. La Salle had implemented a 3/4 full press with much success throughout the first half. They were able to put pressure on a young Jordan Hall who is susceptible to turnovers. In fact, the Explorers were able to successfully trap the ball multiple times. However, in the second half La Salle ditched the strategy for a traditional defense. Something inside me says that game could’ve been different if La Salle kept up the defensive pressure on a young and inexperienced Jordan Hall.
What is Up Next
Saint Joe’s will play Dayton next Wednesday (2/24) at 6:00 pm. La Salle will face off against Duquesne next Saturday (2/27) at 2:00pm. Both games will be on ESPN+.