Coming off a disappointing home loss to Butler, and without the services of junior forward Halil Kanacevic, Saint Joseph's traveled to Pittsburg Saturday to do battle with Duquesne.
Junior swingman Daryus Quarles, who has seen his role reduced from two-year starter to barely-used reserve, came up huge for the Hawks in the first half of yesterday's game. Quarles logged the majority of his 16 minutes in the first half, where he went a perfect 3-3 from three, en route to a season-high 9 points.
Thanks to nine points from Quarles, and ten from sophomore point guard Chris Wilson, the Hawks enjoyed a 40-33 lead at the half. For the second game in a row, the Hawks put together a solid first-half offensive outing.
But for the second game in a row, the Hawks sputtered in the second half. As a result, the Hawks found themselves in a dogfight down the stretch with a young, but gritty, Duquesne squad.
The most pivotal bucket of the game came from an unlikely source. Sophomore wing forward Papa Ndao knocked down a three with 6:30 to go, extending what had been whittled down to a one-point lead lead to a 59-55 margin.
Despite abysmal free-throw shooting (19-30), the Hawks did just enough down the stretch to sneak out the road win. The free-throw shooting woes for senior point guard Carl Jones continued on Saturday, going 4-11 from the stripe. A 79% free-throw shooter a year ago, Jones has seen his percentage drop all the way down to 59 on the year.
Despite his woes from the free-throw line, Jones did chip in 15 points on three threes, and also had four assists.
Another area for concern for the Hawks in this one was rebounding. Duquesne reeled in 14 offensive rebounds on the night, and out-rebounded the Hawks 43-30. Some of this was to be expected without Halil's presence in the paint.
A bright spot in the game was the workmanlike effort from junior forward Ron Roberts. Roberts had yet another double-double on Saturday, finishing with 13 points and 11 rebounds. His front court-mate, C.J. Aiken, finished with only six points, but chipped in 7 rebounds, 7 blocks, and altered numerous shot attempts by the Dukes.
For Duquesne, Sean Johnson and Andre Marhold led the way with 13 points apiece. Marhold also had a team-leading 11 rebounds.
With the win, the Hawks improved to 9-5 on the season, and evened their conference record at 1-1. Duquesne dropped to 7-9, and 0-2 in Atlantic 10 play.
Things surely don't get any easier now for St. Joe's. The Hawks have four days off before making the trek down to Virginia to take on Shaka Smart and VCU. The 14-3 Rams are 2-0 in league play in their first year as members of the A10.
The Rams last lost on November 24th, to 13th ranked Missouri. Since then, they have an 11-game winning streak. Check back with Hawk Hill Hardwood for a full, detailed preview of Thursday's road game.