Hawks outlast Explorers

On Saturday afternoon, Saint Joseph's got a Herculean effort out of sophomore forward Halil Kanacevic and outlasted city rival La Salle 70-66 at the Palestra to improve to 15-9 on the season, and 5-4 in Atlantic 10 play.

Halil Kanacevic had the best game of his still-young Hawk career on Saturday, going for 18 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. The Hawks' frontcourt of Kanacevic, C.J. Aiken, and Ron Roberts were the difference in the win, combining for 35 points and 26 rebounds.

Entering the game, it was clear that Saint Joseph's would have the advantage in terms of frontcourt play and rebounding, and that La Salle would have the edge in perimeter play and three-point shooting. That was certainly the case yesterday as the Hawks outrebounded the Explorers 42-33. On the other hand, La Salle knocked down 11 treys, compared to only one for the Hawks.

While Saint Joseph's only had two players, Kanacevic and Carl Jones, in double figures, it was a balanced attack offensively with key contributions from the bench. Sophomore wing Daryus Quarles followed up a strong outing Wednesday with another on Saturday, hitting for nine points. Quarles was one of three Hawks with nine on the game, alongside Langston Galloway and Ron Roberts.

Although it doesn't necessarily reflect in the statistics, one of the most important players in determining Saturday's outcome was freshman point guard Chris Wilson. Wilson has shown flashes at times this season for the Hawks in what has been a relatively up-and-down season for him. He was a key cog in Saturday's win, with 4 points, 4 assists, and 7 rebounds. Wilson had a terrific assist down the stretch for a Kanacevic dunk with the shot-clock running down and also buried two important free throws.

For Hawk fans, one of the most promising signs in the win was the spring in the step of junior guard Carl Jones. Jones, who was an absolute star early in the season for the Hawks, has not been himself for the past month or so following an ankle injury. Jones seemed to have most of his bounce back yesterday, as he looked more explosive off the dribble than he has in quite some time. It was not a great game for Jones, but the fact that he looked to have regained his quickness bodes very well for the Hawks down the stretch.

Saint Joseph's led this one for roughly the final 36 minutes, but that's not to say that the win came easily. The Hawks took an early 6-5 lead on a Langston Galloway layup, and held that lead until the final buzzer. At the half, the Hawks were up comfortably, 42-33. La Salle used their three-point shooting in the second half to claw their way back into this one.

At the 13:04 mark, a Tyreek Duren triple for La Salle cut the Hawk lead to 52-48. From there, Roberts and Kanacevic used their significant size advantage inside to help bring the Hawk lead back up to nine.

From there, things got tense for both sides. Eight straight points for the Explorers brought them to within one, and the Hawks used some clutch free throw shooting from Chris Wilson, CJ Aiken, and Langston Galloway to ice this one, 70-66.

As well as Saint Joseph's played offensively in the first half, they struggled in the second. In the final 11 minutes, the Hawks only scored two field goals, both by Kanacevic. They rode 10-12 free throw shooting during that stretch, however, to the win.

There was a recruit of note in attendance for Saturday's Big 5 win. Junior Philadelphia Electric and Technology Charter forward Jai Williams was in attendance and sat behind the Hawk bench with high school teammate David George. Williams is one of Saint Joseph's top targets in the class of 2013.

With the win, the Hawks improve to 15-9 on the year. According to RPIForecast.com, the Hawks sit at 42 nationally in RPI. On Wednesday, they return to action against Saint Louis at home.

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