February 24, 2021 –
After an improbable win against La Salle, their first Atlantic 10 win this season, the Saint Joseph’s Hawks prepared for their next step, a conference winning streak. The Dayton Flyers are the defending champions and sit in the top six in the league. The Hawks were ready. And it was Senior Night.
“I would say there was a level of confidence getting over the hump,” said Hawks guard Ryan Daly, one of the seniors. “We had three overtime games before that we didn’t win. The confidence we had carried over. We’re going to try and keep building.”
With three-point shots falling and a career-high 36 points from forward Taylor Funk the Hawks are on a two-game winning streak after a 97 – 84 win over Dayton. The 97-point effort represents the highest offensive output in the Billy Lange era.
Funk became the 58th Saint Joseph’s player to reach the 1,000 point plateau. He sank 10 of 18 shots and was a perfect 11 for 11 from the free throw line, his collegiate-best.
Saint Joseph’s converted 18 of 42 from beyond the arc with Funk and Daly getting 5 three’s each. The program record for made three-pointers stands at 20.
Saint Joe’s took a 54 – 38 lead at halftime. It was expected that Dayton would make a run and did getting to within 76 – 69 at the 8:42 mark. The Hawks responded to the charge by scoring the next 12 points. After so many near misses and overtime games the Hawks were ready to respond in this environment.
“It’s definitely a sign of growth,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Billy Lange. “We’ve been in this situation before. All of these shared experiences ultimately add up. Having Ryan back helps and the shared experiences of this group without him plus the Kansas and Auburn games have given this group confidence.”
Daly contributed 25 points making 9 of 19 and 5 of 11 from distance. Cameron Brown added 18 points and Jordan Hall scored 16.
Jalen Crutcher got a team-high 17 points for the Flyers. He added 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Ibi Watson scored 16 while R.J. Blakney had 15.
The Hawks win their second in a row and third on the year. There is one more regular season game remaining on the schedule which is at Richmond on March 1. Afterward is the A10 Tournament. The Hawks are getting in the positive mindset they did at the start of the season.
“It feels like the beginning of the season, then we had that pause,” said Funk. “We got out minds straight. We got really good work in, and getting Ryan back helps. I think our spirits are as high as they’ve been.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian