Hawks snap skid, beat Penn

On Saturday night, St. Joe's built an early 15-point lead on Penn at the Palestra, only to have it whittled down to two possessions at the half. When the Quakers took a lead early in the second half, things looked bleak for the Hawks, who had lost three straight. A nice spurt from James Demery, 23 points from Lamarr Kimble, and a new career-high of 19 points from Charlie Brown propelled the Hawks to a much-needed win. My takeaways are inside, including insight into what recruits (Noah Locke, a

1) That's a win the Hawks flat-out needed.  They were losers of three straight, And all three were tight losses.  At home to George Mason by 8.  At home to Richmond by 4.  At  UMass by 5.  The Hawks had lost three straight by a combined 17 points.  And the three losses dropped the Hawks to 8-9 on the year, and 2-4 in league play.  While Saturday's win against Penn doesn't help in that respect, it does bring them back to 500 on the year.  With the win, the Hawks are just outside the top 100 in RPI, at 107 according to the NCAA.  The Hawks have upcoming games at Saint Bonaventure, then home against La Salle and Davidson before hosting Fordham.  With the next three being really tough ones, it was imperative for St. Joe's to earn a win Saturday to prevent a long skid.

2) James Demery had a quiet first half, missing his only field goal attempt. Phil Martelli actually pulled his junior wing a few minutes into the game after a lackadaisical floating pass got picked off. Demery turned in an impressive second half though.  He was 9-12 from the free throw line, which was a great sign.  For someone that has struggled from the line during his career, James is now shooting 18-26 (69%) over the last two games.  The fact that he's shot 26 free throws in the last two games is a byproduct of him being more aggressive.  He was only 3-9 from the field and his shooting from the field the last three games is 10-36 (28%). James is so tough to stop when he gets going downhill, and he did that multiple times Saturday.  

3) Lamarr Kimble had arguably his worst game as a Hawk last week at UMass, turning it over 9 times.  Entering Saturday, Kimble had turned it over 20 times in the last four games.  He was much more secure with it against Penn.  He had an early turnover, but finished the game with just 2 turnovers to 5 assists in 40 minutes.  Kimble also shot the ball well in all. He was 6-13 from the field, 9-11 from the line, and 2-5 from three, en route to a game-high 23 points.  It was Kimble's best game in a minute, and it came, unsurprisingly, at The Palestra.  For St. Joe's to have any shot tomorrow at Bonaventure, Kimble will have to replicate that effort.

4) Looking at the box score, it's really easy to overlook the impact that reserve posts Jai Williams and Javon Baumann had Saturday.  If you were at The Palestra, their impact was obvious.  The two combined for 7 points and 10 boards off the bench, but it was their defensive impact and the timeliness of their rebounds that was significant.  Williams and Baumann both played terrific defense on Penn freshman A.J. Brodeur, limiting him to 8 points and 8 boards.  Baumann and Brodeur got tangled up and got offsetting technicals early in the second half. When they got mixed up, the Hawks were up 38-36.  If you blinked, you missed a quick 8-2 Hawk spurt that gave them a 48-38 lead and some breathing room.  On a night where Markell Lodge was largely ineffective, Williams and Baumann were terrific in their roles off the bench.

5) Charlie Brown scored a career-high 19 points Saturday, and paired that with a team-high 9 boards.  Charlie earned his second Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors on Monday. Charlie came into Hawk Hill with the reputation as a knockdown three-point shooter.  And by and large he has been one.  What's been most impressive is his ability to get his off the bounce too.  He was only 2-8 from three Saturday, but 7-8 from the line and 5-13 from the field.  He had a filthy pull-up 17 footer off the bounce against Penn that was a straight NBA iso move.  He has been a revelation this year.  His ceiling is as high as anyone in the city or the A10.

6) The Hawks had a number of recruits in the house Saturday.  McDonogh (MD) junior Noah Locke was in the house.  The top 100 junior has offers from St. Joe's, Penn, Georgetown, Xavier, and Florida among others.  He's in that top tier of Hawk offers.  2018 Ajiri Johnson from Bonner (PA), 2018 Sean Good of Trinity (PA), and 2018 shooter Drew Friberg of State College (PA) were all there too.  All are in the evaluation stages.  2019 Eric Dixon of Abington (PA) was also there.  The powerhouse of a forward already has an SJU offer.

The Hawks are back in action Tuesday at Saint Bonaventure.

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