Hawks-Bearcats Takeaways

On Tuesday afternoon, Saint Joseph's improved to 8-4 on the season with a 71-44 win over the Binghamton Bearcats. The contest was over almost as soon as it began, as an Isaiah Miles three gave the Hawks a 27-6 lead less than nine minutes in. My takeaways from the game are inside.

The win on New Year's Eve Day was the Hawks' fourth in a row. Since getting pounded at home by Villanova, the Hawks have knocked off Drexel, Loyola (MD), Boston University, and Binghamton to improve their record to 8-4. The Hawks have one more non-conference game, home Saturday against Denver, before beginning a challenging Atlantic 10 schedule with a trip to top 25 UMass.

My first takeaway from yesterday's game was just how much Binghamton struggled, especially on the offensive end. On the game, the Bearcats shot just 29% from the field and tallied just 15 first-half points for head coach Tommy Dempsey. Jordan Reed, Karon Waller, and Nick Madray combined for 33 of the Bearcats' 44 points.

In addition to struggling to score the ball, the Bearcats couldn't keep the Hawks from knocking down shots from downtown. St. Joe's senior Langston Galloway was 6-9 from three en route to a game-high 20 points in just 25 minutes. His backcourt-mate Chris Wilson was 3-6 from three, and is now 10-19 from deep during this four-game winning streak. As a team, the Hawks shot 14-26 from three.

One of the most important takeaways from this game was bench play. Isaiah Miles had 11 points and 6 rebounds in 20 minutes of action off the bench, while Javon Baumann had 6 points and 4 rebounds in his 11 minutes of action. At the moment, Miles, a 6'7 sophomore combo guard, appears to be the Hawks' best option in terms of a 6th man. He had 17 points against Loyola, a career-high, then 11 yesterday. The key with him, moving forward, will be consistency, and "making the right play" when his shot isn't falling.

While senior Daryus Quarles has been the 6th man off the bench all year, it will be interesting to see if that continues moving forward. Quarles has struggled over the past five games, shooting 0-9 from the field during this four-game winning streak and not scoring a single point. In his last 46 minutes of game action, he has 0 points and 3 rebounds combined. Yesterday, Daryus played just 7 minutes, while Miles played 20 and junior forward Papa Ndao played 17. This is worth keeping an eye on moving forward.

Halil Kanacevic appeared to still be struggling with back pain. He played 20 minutes in the win, and while he didn't scoring, missing his two shots in close and two free throws, he did contribute 8 rebounds and 7 assists.

DeAndre Bembry threw down the Hawk dunk of the year in the second half when he glided from the perimeter and took off from a legitimate seven or eight feet from the basket. His thunderous slam accounted for his only two points of the game, as he struggled shooting the ball in this one. Despite that, he found other ways to contribute, chipping in 6 rebounds and 8 assists. Bembry will need to show a bit more consistency scoring the ball, however, as this team moves into Atlantic 10 play if they are to be a threat to finish in the top third of the league.

As today marks the first day of 2014, and the book has closed on 2013, Saint Joseph's basketball is in a much better spot than it was three weeks ago. The 8-4 Hawks have a chance to make it five wins in a row on Saturday at home against Denver. A 9-4 record with an RPI around 70 would put them in a spot where a successful Atlantic 10 season (10-6?) would give them a real opportunity to be in the discussion come March. There is a long ways to go until then.

Denver comes to town Saturday and then the Hawks make the trip north to UMass for what should be a real challenge. I will have a Denver preview up Friday. Until then, Happy New Year, Hawks fans!

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