March 3, 2021 –
The Saint Joseph’s Hawks and La Salle Explorers met in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Championships. It’s not often two Big Five teams meet on a site outside of Philadelphia, but the pairings made it so. But it was a city scrap with the Hawks advancing to the second round of the tournament with a 72 – 66 victory. Saint Joe’s will play #7 UMass on Thursday as the Hawks buy another game and another day.
“The most important thing for us is that we get to continue to play Saint Joseph’s Basketball,” said Hawks Coach Billy Lange about the significance of the win. “It’s one more opportunity for this group to share experiences. It’s about how much more can we understand what we mean when we say compete for the story of Saint Joseph’s basketball. The Atlantic 10 tournament is providing us an opportunity to do that.”
Ryan Daly led all scorers with 23 points. His dagger step back three-pointer, his only one of the game, with just over a minute to play put the Hawks ahead 67 – 60 taking control of the game.
“I got him to step back (the La Salle defender) thinking I was driving, stepped back, rose up and I hit it,” said Daly. “When I hit it I felt like it’s our game game to lose now. That was a big shot. I’m happy it went in because I have been struggling from three.”
La Salle held a 57 – 55 with just over seven minutes remaining on a basket by David Beatty. Then the Explorers went cold scoring their next basket with 1:43 on the clock. The Hawks took the lead making 7 of 8 free throws until the Daly three-pointer. Jordan Hall converted 6 straight free throws in that stretch scoring 17 points going 10 of 11 from the charity stripe.
Saint Joseph’s takes the season series from their cross-town rivals. Although disappointing, the concern for the Explorers is not being able to advance to the next round.
“For us it’s very personal,” Beatty said. “We lost to these guys at their home not too long ago. It wasn’t really a concern with it being a Big Five or Philadelphia tradition. We came in knowing we had a game to win. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned.”
The Hawks (5 – 14) are on a four-game winning streak and want to ride that streak as far as possible. The Explorers finish the season at 9 – 16 posting wins over the top-teams in the conference, and Coach Ashley Howard looks forward with optimism.
“We have a talented, young, core group of guys that know when they come and play together, they can be a really good team,” said Howard. “The most encouraging this was we didn’t have an offseason with so many of our guys. I’m looking forward to getting these guys together, coming back, and getting to work. They know they can compete with anybody in this league.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian