Effort the Key in Saint Joseph’s Victory

Saint Joseph’s Coming Off Big Five Championship Defeats American 69 – 53

PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/6/2023 –

“I’m impressed with our guys effort,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Billy Lange. “This coming off what we did last week shows great maturity for our guys.”

The Hawks won the Big Five Classic. Just 4 days later the team took the court against American. Would they continue to grow and play to a high caliber game? Saint Joe’s did winning 69 – 53 over American at the Hagan Arena.

“It’s hard not to acknowledge two things,” Lange said. “The first ever Big Five championship and what it means to our university and our constituents. It means a lot to our team. This is a shared experience for these guys. When we got together on Monday we talked about earning this win because they earned attention. You know you’re going to get their best chance and respect the opportunity to play now. Last week is over.”

One factor to look to in being ready is the defensive intensity. The Hawks brought it especially in the first half holding the Eagles to 6 of 25 shooting (24%) and giving up 1 of 12 shots from beyond the arc. Saint Joe’s did not turn American over that much (7 times), but they did disrupt their offense. The 53 points scored by American is the lowest number of points allowed by SJU this season.

The key to it?

“You try to be effort based for as long as the possession will require it to be and then finish it with a rebound,” Lange said about the defense. “Outside of a few sequences, I thought we were really good at doing that.”

The Key Run

Saint Joseph’s led 30 – 18 at halftime. American stayed in contention trailing 34 – 26 at the 16:20 mark. The Hawks answered with an 11 – 2 run to take control. The run was keyed by freshman guard Xzavier Brown who started the spurt with a three-pointer and ended it with a layup.

“It was important because we tried to put the game away,” Brown said about the critical run. “I think it was getting good shots. We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds, but during that spurt when we spread the lead, we didn’t give up that many. And we played great defense.”

What the Numbers Say

Xzavier Brown scored a game-high 20 points, one shy of his career-high, making 6 of 9 from the field and 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. He was perfect on all 4 free throws. Erik Reynolds II added 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half, and he handed out 5 assists. Forward Rasheer Fleming had 13 points and a game-high 9 rebounds.

“X steps up,” Lange said about the contribution of Brown. “He is a seamless basketball player who can play with anybody on the floor. And we needed him tonight.”

With Brown scoring it complements the other players who can put the ball in the basket, and it makes SJU a dangerous team.

“Everybody is a threat and that makes our team special,” Brown said. “So when somebody may not be having their night, we have other guys who can fill in for them.”

Saint Joe’s had a 35 – 26 rebounding advantage. Each team took down 11 boards off the offensive glass.

Elijah Stephens led American with 16 points and Matt Rogers added 12. For the game the Eagles made 19 of 51 shots (37.3%), but converted only 3 of 24 three-point shots. American is looking for their first road win of the season.

Up Next

Saint Joseph’s (7 – 2) is on a four-game winning streak and will host the Princeton Tigers on Sunday.

“I’m impressed with the effort,” said Lange. “We still need to tighten things up. We will be challenged and tested in a big time way on Sunday. That’ll be fun for us, and we’ll learn a lot about ourselves.”


Written By: Glenn Papazian

Contact: Glenn@PhillyCollegeSports.com

Rasheer Fleming With a Dunk

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