Hawks rip Fordham to remain unbeaten on road

On Saturday afternoon, St. Joe's traveled to Fordham looking to bounce back from their loss at home to Saint Bonaventure earlier this week. St. Joe's went 11-24 from deep, and had four players score in double-digits at Rose Hill Gymnasium en route to a dominant 82-60 win. The Hawks improved to 19-4, and 8-2 in Atlantic 10 play, with the win. My takeaways are inside.

Instead of a traditional recap, which would be somewhat formulaic and, frankly, boring, given the nature of today's game, here are my major takeaways.

1) DeAndre Bembry is playing like a man on a mission. He was just 3 assists shy of a triple-double today. Bembry finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists in 36 minutes. Bembry was an efficient 6-9 from the field and 4-4 from the line. He had a ridiculous left-handed dunk after splitting a double-team in traffic, that was one of the highlights of the year. Over the last three games, DeAndre is a combined 20-34 (59%) from the field and 11-15 (73%) from the free throw line. He's averaging 17.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists over the stretch. If DeAndre continues to play at this level, the Hawks are that much more dangerous over these final eight games.

2) Isaiah Miles sparked back to life in the second half. Zeke had one of his roughest outings of the season on Wednesday against Saint Bonaventure. In the 83-73 loss, Miles was just 4-12 from the field, finishing with 11 points. He really struggled from deep, going just 1-6, and in general just didn't look like himself. That carried over to the first half today, where his minutes were limited due to foul trouble and he was held scoreless. In the first 5 minutes of the second half, he erupted though. He had an and-one lay-up, a bucket in close, then back-to-back threes, 11 points, in just 5:31. Maybe this gets Miles back on track. They'll really need him Wednesday at George Washington.

3) The point guard play today was fantastic. Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble combined for 30 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, and just 1 turnover. Newkirk got the Hawks going early, after they fell behind 7-0. He hit back-to-back threes, finishing 3-4 from deep. Newkirk had a career-high 17 points, while Kimble also set a career-high with his 13. Like Newkirk, Kimble also hit three from downtown, finishing 3-5 from deep. After hitting double figures just once in the season's first 16 games, he has 4 double-digit games in the Hawks' last 7.

4) If you just look at Pierfrancesco Oliva's stat line today, it would be puzzling as to why he's one of five major takeaways that I have. It's because his game has more than just skill and nuance. He plays with remarkable toughness for a player that is overmatched physically at this point. He was just 2-5 from the field for 4 points today, but he had 8 rebounds, good enough for second on the team, in just 26 minutes. Oliva has not scored the ball much for the Hawks this year, but he hasn't needed to. Watching him play this year gives you hope for the Hawks' front court moving forward. SJU will lose Isaiah Miles, Papa Ndao, and Aaron Brown to graduation this year. That likely means that Oliva is your starting 4 next season. With a full offseason to get stronger and refine his shooting stroke, the future is so bright for him. His feel for the game, passing ability, and toughness on the glass give him a chance to be special.

5) The Hawks are now 19-4, but this home stretch is what will determine whether or not the Hawks are an NCAA tournament team. The Hawks have four home games and four road games. The road games are at George Washington, at Davidson, at Saint Bonaventure, and at UMass. The Hawks then have La Salle, Saint Louis, Dayton, and Duquesne at home. The final eight begins with a trip to Washington DC on Wednesday night to face a George Washington team that won at VCU today, handing them their first loss in league play. I will have a full preview of that one up Tuesday. St. Joe's brings their 8-0 road record to GW, looking to get a top 50 RPI win for the first time this year. If the Hawks are to make this post-season push, Wednesday would be a good place to start.

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