After two brutal and unexpected losses, Saint Joseph’s desperately had to win a game against a team that beat them in triple overtime last year. At 96-91, it was close yet again, but they got the job done and avoided falling to .500 with a frenetic game against the Iona Gaels. Iona led 47-45 at the half but SJU jumped out to a quick lead that they slowly built after the half.
Tay Jones scored a season-high 32 points and surpassed 1,500 for his career in a hot-shooting night that saw him go 12-19 from the field and 4-7 from three. Jones, who had been suffering from a sore groin, was held to 3 points in the Hawks home loss to Fairfield last time out. His injury appeared to be fully healed as he consistently beat his man off the dribble and created shots for himself and his teammates. He also had four assists and four steals.
SJU received a stunning five points out of their 96 total but three starters scored over 20. Langston Galloway shot 50% from the field and from the perimeter for 23 and CJ Aiken added 22, including a few impressive dunks to go along with his 9 rebounds and 4 blocks. Most importantly, however, was that he “was assertive” as Phil Martelli put it after the game. For much of the season, Aiken has been secluded in the corner, beyond the perimeter and it clearly makes a difference when he spends time in the paint.
Due in part to the absence of Halil Kanacevic, who was serving the second game of a two-game suspension, the Hawks were out-rebounded overall and especially badly on offense. The difference seemed to be the pace of the game which favored SJU as they’ve failed all season to get their half-court offense consistently in sync. Even though they again relied heavily on three-pointers (11-22), this time making them, the Hawks also scored 40 points in the paint even without their biggest player. Their ability to penetrate regularly led to more open opportunities than they’ve had in many games this season. In his post-game press conference, Martelli alluded to reducing the reliance on threes as the season progresses.
Coming into the game at fourth in the nation in scoring, Lamont Jones finished with 25 for the Gaels.
Saint Joseph’s will next travel a few miles to West Philly as they face City Six rival Drexel on New Year’s Eve for a 4 PM tip.
-96 points was the most the Hawks have scored in regulation since 2008
-Tay Jones became the 16th player in Saint Joseph’s history to surpass 1,500
-Hagan Arena posted a sellout of 4,200 even as the students were away for holiday break