Hawks Take Down Temple: Ten Takeaways

On Sunday afternoon, St. Joe's improved to 7-2 on the season with a 66-65 overtime win at the Liacouras Center over Big 5 rival Temple. The Hawks were led by DeAndre Bembry and Isaiah Miles, who both tallied double-doubles. It was a freshman that stole the show down the stretch though. My ten takeaways are inside

1) There is no such thing about an ugly Big 5 road win. Gritty? Sure. Tough? Absolutely. But this is Philadelphia. This is the Big 5. The Hawks earned this win. At times the play was ugly, as both teams struggled shooting on the afternoon. St. Joe's was just 34% from the field and 26% from three, while Fran Dunphy's Owls were 33% from the field and 23% from three. Again, not pretty, but there is no such thing as an ugly Big 5 road win. This was a game that the Hawks battled into a W.

2) Isaiah Miles had his worst shooting game of the season, finishing just 2-10 from the field. One could argue though that he was one of the Hawks most valuable players Sunday. Isaiah was a perfect 8-8 from the charity stripe, while also corralling a game-high 15 rebounds. Isaiah has steadily improved each year on Hawk Hill. Through nine games this season, Miles is averaging 15.4 points and 8 boards per game while shooting a terrific 90% from the free throw line. Isaiah dropped significant weight in the offseason, and his newfound explosiveness is really helping him, and his teammates.

3) DeAndre Bembry missed two critical free throws in the game's closing seconds, and as a result, Temple was able to force overtime. Bembry made up for it though with two heady plays down the stretch. He had a save off the offensive glass as the ball was going out of bounds, then later beautifully deflected a ball off Temple to give SJU possession back. It's not like he didn't stuff the stat sheet as it was, finishing with 17 points, 13 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 assists, and 2 blocks. Let that all sink in for a minute. In a road game in a hostile environment. DeAndre's hesitation dribble and slash to the hole in the first half was his most impressive move of the season. He froze his defender then double-clutched at the rim, finishing with his right hand. It was an NBA move by a future NBA player.

4) St. Joe's has an open competition at the point guard position between sophomore Shavar Newkirk and freshman Lamarr Kimble. Newkirk has started all nine games to date for the Hawks and doesn't appear in immediate danger to lose that job. Newkirk won the Old Dominion game on a last-second jumper and has been, more or less, very solid. On Sunday, it was the freshman that stole the show though. Lamarr Kimble hit 3-4 from downtown, including a huge three at the end of regulation, then the lead-claiming three in overtime. Kimble, a product of Neumann-Goretti (PA) is no stranger to big moments in Philadelphia basketball games. However, this was his biggest yet. To have the game-winner in your first Big 5 game, on the road, it doesn't get much better than that. This could also be the confidence-builder that Newkirk needed. If he can really get going, and Newkirk can continue to play as he has most of the season, the Hawks have a dynamic 1-2 punch at the point guard spot.

5) Temple has a heralded freshman class of Levan Alston, Trey Lowe, and Ernest Aflakpui. St. Joe's offered all three and were really in it until the end with Ernest. He ended up picking Temple but didn't play at all Sunday. Aflakpui is coming off a serious injury that forced him to miss his senior season at Archbishop Carroll (PA), but still, his lack of minutes is somewhat surprising. He has only played a grand total of 24 minutes so far this season.

6) With the win Sunday, St. Joe's has now won two in a row over the Owls. While winning Big 5 games doesn't equate to landing a better foothold in the insanely competitive Philadelphia recruiting scene, it certainly doesn't hurt. The Hawks and Owls go head-to-head for recruits year after year. Doing it this year with Aaron Brown and Lamarr Kimble, two Philly kids, playing huge roles, can't be undersold. High school coaches, AAU directors, and parents pay attention to this stuff. As do recruits. Sunday's win doesn't mean that St. Joe's is going to see their recruiting go on the uptick, but winning city games with city kids doesn't hurt.

7) Papa Ndao had two threes on Sunday, going 2-6 from downtown en route to 6 points, 4 boards, and a block in 13 minutes. That line doesn't jump out to you, but Papa's impact has been felt. He was huge in the road win at Columbia and his two threes Sunday were needed. He gives the Hawks a different dimension off the bench. As this team continues to grow and gel, his presence should continue to help and his role could expand.

8) James Demery struggled mightily on the offensive end against the Owls. It was his worst offensive game of the year, finishing scoreless in 27 minutes. There's a reason he played 27 minutes though, and it was clear in watching the game. He did a superb job defensively on Temple's leading scorer, senior wing Quenton DeCosey. DeCosey was just 4-15 from the field, finishing with 13 points. That's in large part due to Demery. So if you just look at a box score, you will think that James had a 'bad game.' He didn't. He was that good on the defensive end, and the impact he had there parlayed the Hawks into a win.

9) With the win Sunday, St. Joe's has jumped from 71 all the way up to 56 in the official NCAA RPI. It is way too early to focus heavily on that, but the Hawks have put themselves in a decent spot at 7-2. With three OOC games left before league play, the Hawks are in a spot where a 3-0 stretch here would likely put them very much into the early-season NCAA Tournament discussion

10) The Hawks are now off until Saturday when they host Illinois State. I will have a full preview of that game up on Friday then will be at Hagan Arena Saturday to provide complete coverage.

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