Newkirk’s double-double leads Saint Joseph’s over Duquesne, 82-75

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PHILADELPHIA — Shavar Newkirk scored 26 points and had 10 assists to lead Saint Joseph’s to an 82-75 win over Duquesne (12-14; 7-7 A-10) in Atlantic 10 action at Hagan Arena. It is the Hawks’ third straight win to mark their longest winning streak of the season.

It was the third career double-double for Newkirk, but his first-ever double-double in points and assists, while he went without a turnover. Sophomore Nick Robinson posted his first career double-double reaching personal bests of 14 points and 11 rebounds. James Demery added 12 points for Saint Joseph’s (12-14; 7-7 A-10).

Taylor Funk set a Saint Joseph’s freshman record by making his 72nd three-pointer of the season, breaking Charlie Brown’s mark of 71 from last year.

Saint Joseph’s led for all but a minute during the entire game but broke open a close contest with a 12-2 second-half run to take its biggest lead of the game, 69-54, with 3:41 to play. Included in the spurt was a five-point swing for the Hawks after a Duquesne bench technical as Funk hit the free throws and Pierfrancesco Oliva connected on a three-pointer on the ensuing possession.

Duquesne cut the deficit to single digits a few more times but Robinson had six points in the final two minutes. Tarin Smith made two threes with under a minute to play to pull the Dukes within 78-72 with :33 left, but Newkirk connected on two of his 10 free throws to give the Hawks an 80-72 cushion. After a dunk by Robinson, Smith ended the game with another three to provide the final margin.

With Saint Joseph’s holding a 36-31 halftime lead, Duquesne opened the period with a 9-0 run to go up 40-38, taking its first lead since the game’s opening minutes. The Dukes’ lead didn’t last long as Newkirk scored seven straight points to give SJU a 45-40 lead at 15:24.

After Duquesne came within 51-50 at the 10-minute mark, Demery and Chris Clover scored six points for SJU to give them a 57-52 lead.

In the early going SJU broke a 7-7 tie with an 8-0 run, helped by consecutive threes from Funk and Newkirk to take a 15-7 lead. The Hawks increased it to double digits, 21-10, with three-pointers from Robinson and Oliva for SJU’s biggest lead of the half.

“I think how we answered, when they took that lead in the second half, lifts me up. It makes me think we can keep growing this thing and get a little better. The turnovers and foul shooting at the end of games is not strong enough. But I think anytime your point guard (Newkirk) walks out with 10 assists and no turnovers, that’s some game – forget the points. 10 assists and no turnovers,” said head coach Phil Martelli. “But then you have guys that combine for 10 turnovers – Nick (Robinson) and Checco (Oliva) – that’s not good enough. The 44 points allowed in the second half – that shows work to be done.”

“It’s on us to get [Taylor] those shots. I’ll take all 10 of his shots again. To be honest with you, he has to shoot better. Because those shots are dead in his wheelhouse. I don’t buy all of that freshman stuff. You’re a player at this point. We’ve played 26 games, and he needs to play better. He needs to shoot that ball better,” said Martelli. “I think his teammates have done a very good job of putting [Taylor] in position and have been more insistent on him taking more shots.”

“We’ve won three in a row and we haven’t done that all year. To me, you have to play to what’s going to be successful in March. That last stretch of time will not be successful in March.”

The Hawks remain at home and host George Mason on Wednesday, February 21, at 7 p.m. in the second meeting of the teams.

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