With St. Joseph’s returning leading scorer suspended for the first three games of the season, the men’s basketball team headed to Philadelphia with an opportunity to rebound from Saturday’s overtime defeat to Sacred Heart and steal a win from the Atlantic-10 preseason favorite. But the Hawks had other ideas for their home opener against the Bulldogs (0–2, 0–0 Ivy).
St. Joseph’s (1–0, 0–0 Atlantic-10) began the game with an 8–0 run over the first five minutes and never looked back, cruising to a 61–35 victory in front of a raucous crowd at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
“It was the first true road game we had all season,” head coach James Jones said. “I don’t think that we responded particularly well at the start of the game.”
Guard Armani Cotton ’15 stopped St. Joseph’s run and put Yale on the scoreboard with a layup five minutes into the contest. Despite falling into an early hole, the Bulldogs played the Hawks evenly for the rest of the half. Cotton and forward Brandon Sherrod ’15 led the team in scoring on Saturday with eight points apiece, and the Elis ended the first half down by only 10 points, 25–15.
Yale kept the game close at the beginning of the second half and even cut the lead to eight points when Cotton’s three-pointer made it 34–26 with under 14 minutes to play in the game. But after Cotton’s basket, the Hawks went on a 17–0 run over the next nine minutes to extend their lead to 51–26. St. Joseph’s guard Langston Galloway scored six of his game-high 20 points during that stretch to put the game out of reach.
Galloway stood out in the absence of guard Carl Jones, who was suspended by St. Joseph’s for violation of the university’s community standards. Jones led the team in scoring last season with 17 points per game and is the lone returning senior on the Hawks squad.
“It was their home opener, it was a tough place to play,” captain Sam Martin ’13 said. “When someone starts to get momentum at home with a crowd, you need to have the poise to weather the storm and we weren’t able to do that.”
Martin added that St. Joseph’s athleticism frustrated the Elis on the offensive end. Jones said that while the Bulldog offense struggled to hit open shots, the Elis also had difficulty finding high-percentage shots because of Saint Joseph’s size on the interior. The Elis took 25 three-pointers and converted only six of them while being outscored 30–8 on points in the paint.
Both Martin and Jones considered the Elis’ defensive performance as a positive takeaway despite the game’s lopsided result. Jones noted that the Bulldogs’ transition defense needs to improve — the team allowed eight Hawk fast-break points — but described its half-court defense as “solid.”
“We held them to 61 points,” he said. “There’s a team that last year averaged 72 [points per game] and they’re better than they were last year.”
The men’s basketball team will look for its first win of the season on Friday at Evansville.