Saint Joseph’s defeats Maine, 72-59

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PHILADELPHIA — Seniors Shavar Newkirk and James Demery scored 19 points apiece to lead Saint Joseph’s to a 72-59 win over Maine (3-8) at Hagan Arena.

Demery added 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Freshman Taylor Funk scored 10 points off the bench for Saint Joseph’s (5-5), which snapped a two-game losing streak.

The Hawks were making their return to action after a seven-day layoff for final exams and it showed in the early going as they fell behind by as much as eight points in the first half.

Funk hit a jumper to start a 16-5 SJU run which stretched the rest of the half. Saint Joseph’s took its first lead of the game, 26-25, with 3:19 to play and went on to hold a 30-27 halftime lead.

The Hawks kept the momentum after the break, opening the second half with a 9-0 run that included threes from Newkirk and Pierfrancesco Oliva, to take 37-27 lead. The Hawks stretched it to 47-33, for their biggest margin of the game on a jumper by Newkirk at 13:50.

Maine made a quick 6-0 run with under eight minutes to play to cut the Hawks’ lead to 59-52, but Funk answered with his only three-pointer of the game to give SJU its double-digit lead back, 62-52, at 5:44.

Maine was on top throughout most of the first half, as Isaiah White made 5-of-7 three-pointers to score 14 points in the first 12 minutes and give the Black Bears a 19-14 lead.

A three-pointer by Dusan Majstorovic gave Maine its biggest lead of the game, 22-14, at 8:23. Funk hit a jumper that began a 16-5 run for the Hawks throughout the rest of the half. Saint Joseph’s took its first lead of the game, 26-25, with 3:19 to play and held a 30-27 edge at halftime.

“The missed lay-ups are hard because they’re not missed lay-ups. It’s like getting hit upside your head. We’re going to show that film tomorrow, get through our final day of exams tomorrow, and we’re going to have to play better,” said SJU coach Phil Martelli. “There are things that you like. 70 shots – that’s terrific. But shot decisions were deplorable. Three turnovers but then straight-line drives. To be a respectable team, you can’t give up straight line drives. So, lots to work on.”

“We traced the ball a little bit better. Coming in, they were averaging 17 [turnovers per game]. They had 10 in the first half. We traced the ball a bit better and got involved with some ball presence. Usually, we really play a ‘no-fouling’ defense. That’s what we’re trying to do. And we did it again with two free throws. But we need to play better, individually better. We’re not really walking out of here saying that this was crisp and this was sharp and this is good enough for the Atlantic 10.”

Entering the game, Saint Joseph’s ranked third in the nation in fewest turnovers with an 8.9 average. The Hawks had a season-low three turnovers in the win while forcing Maine into 17 giveaways.

Saint Joseph’s will participate in the Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase and face St. John’s on Wednesday at Mohegan Sun Arena. Game time is 4:30 p.m. with the broadcast on ESPNU.

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