PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – For the first time in 2011, the St. Joe’s Hawks tasted victory on Saturday as they held off UMass at Hagan Arena, 67-64. The win snapped a nine-game losing streak, and it was their first in nine A-10 games.
Hawks head coach Phil Martelli says it provided some much-needed positive reinforcement for his young team.
“We made some shots,” Martelli said. “We obviously have not shot the ball well all year. In this game against UMass we made shots, we got a lot of energy from the crowd, and I salute them because I know it hasn’t been easy. It was really focused on the second half of the Atlantic-10 season, eight games left. We wanted to have an air of desperation and we wanted to have a great sense of urgency, and I thought we had that for forty minutes against UMass,” Martelli recalls.
Hear the entire Phil Martelli interview in this CBS Philly SportsPod…
The 6-17 Hawks picked up that win despite not having the services of their leading scorer, sophomore guard Carl Jones. He sprained an ankle in practice two days before the UMass game.
“He has done some light work, he hasn’t done anything real aggressive yet,” Martelli said on Thursday, updating Jones’ status. “We are really going to target Friday and Saturday for him to do some real heavy work. He hasn’t been able to kind of lift into his jumper, lift into his plays at the rim, which he has been so good at all year. Not only our leading scorer, but he is our leading free throw (shooter) with attempts, so we really need to make sure that he is fully healthy for the tilt on Sunday.”
That tilt will be on the road, as the Hawks take on Fordham in East Rutherford, NJ. It’s the same Fordham team that Temple beat on Wednesday, 77-66 (see related story).
“Chris Gaston is as good a player as we have in our league,” Martelli says of the Fordham sophomore forward. “He averages a double-double. The thing that amazes me, though, is they have four players averaging in double figures. You would think for a team that is struggling, and we’re an example of that, that the scoring would be top-heavy. But they spread their scoring out. They really like the three ball. They take an awful lot of three-point shots.”
Fordham is 6-16 overall, 0-10 in the Atlantic-10.
Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060.