PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/28/2020 – The Saint Joseph’s Hawks got their first conference win of the season in dramatic fashion defeating the Davidson Wildcats 73 – 72 on a three-pointer by freshman guard Cameron Brown with less than a second to play. The Hawks won it playing without leading scorer Ryan Daly. Brown scored a game and career-high 24 points, 15 in the second half, in the victory.
Davidson retook a lead they held most of the game with just under 10 seconds on the clock when forward Luka Brajkovic gor behind a Saint Joe’s double team for a dunk. The Hawks went down the court and Brown drained a 24-footer to win it.
“Every day we practice the pump fake, side step, and get the shot off,” said Brown. “My teammates trusted me to take the shot and it went in.”
He knew there were only a few second to play, and took full advantage of it.
“I looked up and realized I had time for a dribble and was able to get the shot off,” Brown said. “It felt good.”
The Hawks win. And how they won was just as incredible.
The Wildcats scored 19 of the first 21 points of the game, and went into the locker room leading 40 – 21. The Hawks comeback trail would be uphill.
“We were down 19 – 2 and we lost by two the last twelve minutes of the second half,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Billy Lange. “There was evidence that we could hang with these guys. We limited the three-point attempts in the second half , and that is a big deal against a team like Davidson.”
Davidson converted 8 three-pointers in the first twenty minutes, Saint Joseph’s had none. What a difference a half makes. The Hawks came out in the second half and Brown and Tolliver Freeman hit shots from beyond the arc. Still, Davidson got a 19-point lead with 15:19 to play.
Momentum was changing. The Hawks were making threes, 9 in the latter twenty minutes, the Wildcats had none.
“That is the importance of the three-point shot,” Lange said. “I did a study that if you give up 25 three-point shots, you’re playing with fire. At halftime they were on pace for 26 three-point attempts, and we’re trying to get more or an even amount of attempts. We showed a little more grit on the perimeter, and we were willing to let Brajkovic play one-on-one.”
The deficit got to 8 points on a Brown layup at the 10:29 mark. After another Brown layup at the 5:11 mark the lead shrunk to 7 points. The Hawks got on a 13 – 5 run and took the lead on two Freeman free throws at 2:28.
Davidson got the advantage back 68 – 67 on a Kellan Grady layup at the 2:14 mark. Brown sank another from beyond the arc with 2 minutes to go. Grady knotted the game at 70 converting two from the line. Neither team scored again until Brajkovic slammed it home and set up the incredible ending.
Brown went 10 of 13 from the floor and made 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. Tolliver Freeman set a collegiate-best 16 points. Rahmir Moore contributed 14 points.
Grady was the Wildcats leading scorer with 20 points, 14 in the first twenty minutes. Brajkovic and Carter Collins added 16 points.
The Hawks are now 1 – 12 in the Atlantic 10. That “1” has much meaning for Saint Joe’s.
“It’s big for us,” Moore said. “We work hard every day in practice and Coach pushes us to be better players. It’s just big.”
Looking for win number “2” the Hawks take the court again on Saturday taking on the Patriots of George Mason in Virginia.
“The result is great,” said Lange. “I’ve seen evidence of a team that is pretty good. We are still one of the teams in the conference that gave a top-five team in the country one of their best conference games. There is evidence that we can string it together. I am more happy about how we did it.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian