PHILADELPHIA, Pa. 2/11/13 – The Saint Joseph’s Hawks men’s basketball team was looking to get a bounce-back win after their Wednesday night loss to Saint Louis. They got that win and defeated a team that was ahead of them in the Atlantic 10 standings as Saint Joseph’s beats UMass 73 – 63 at a sold out Hagan Arena. It was a team win as seven players scored, and the big men played a key role in the victory.
“Every player gave us something,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli. “That was a significant win because that was against a team higher than us in the standings. We have to build going forward. There was a hurt and a bother about leaving that game Wednesday (against Saint Louis). We didn’t empty our tank. Tonight, we emptied our tank, and we can take the result the way we emptied our tank.”
At halftime Saint Joseph’s led by 39 – 28. In the second half the Hawks concentrated on keeping UMass off the offensive boards. Although UMass got 13 offensive rebounds, only 5 were in the second half. The forward line of Sophomore forward Halil Kanacevic, Sophomore Center C.J. Aiken, and Sophomore forward Ronald Roberts gave the team a combined 55 minutes and pulled down 28 of 47 rebounds. It was in the second half where Saint Joseph’s played well defensively. UMass was not able to get offensive rebounds, and the shooting went cold. UMass did not score a basket for over 6 minutes early in the half. They were one and done on offense.
“It stymied them,” said Martelli. “There were never spurts.”
“In the first half they had eight offensive rebounds,” said Kanacevic. “You can’t allow that. It was a focus point coming into the second half that we need to get them off the glass and limit them to one shot.”
Saint Joseph’s used the time to go on a 17 – 2 run to take a 46 – 34 lead with 12:32 to play. The lead would grow to 16 points when Aiken took a lob from Freshman guard Chris Wilson and slammed it home to give the Hawks a 60 – 44 lead. It would be the last Saint Joseph’s field goal of the game, but the Crimson and Gray closed the game out making 12 of 16 free throws.
“We’ve always had stretches where we had other teams on the ropes, and we’ve let them come back in the game,” said Kanacevic. “That run we were really focused that we needed to close this game out and extend the lead, and comfortably finish the game.”
Kanacevic led all rebounders with 15 in the game which tied his career-high for the third time. Five of the rebounds came on the offensive end. The forward from Staten Island had 6 points and 6 assists. He also contributed 2 blocks and 2 steals.
“He is our best post feeder,” Martelli said about Kanacevic. “Roberts got a couple of baskets because he got the ball to him in a comfortable fashion. When he gets rebounds C.J. (Aiken)and Ron (Roberts) feel like they have to get involved.”
Four players scored in double figures for Saint Joseph’s. Junior guard Carl Jones had a team-high 17 points playing what Martelli called a mature game. Sophomore guard Langston Galloway scored 15 points and added 6 rebounds. Roberts contributed 14 points and 8 rebounds, while Aiken added 13 points and 4 blocks. The Hawks out rebounded their opponent 47 – 37.
UMass guard Jesse Morgan scored a game-high 18 points. Guard Chaz Williams scored 11 points and added 10 assists. Forward Terrell Vinson put in 10 points.
Saint Joseph’s improves to 16 – 10 for the season, and they are 6 – 5 in Atlantic 10 play. UMass came in the game in second place in the Atlantic 10, but are now 7 – 4 in the league. Saint Joseph’s go on a two game road trip to Rhode Island and George Washington. The win allows the Hawks to knock on the door of the league top four.
“It’s definitely big because against Saint Louis, we failed the test in beating a team that was above us in the standings.” said Galloway.
Written By: Glenn Papazian