"We were not good enough. That is what I saw. We had little flaws along the way. We can not let this cost us Saturday. We have work to do. We are close," said Martelli.
Carl Jones had 14 of his 21 points in the second half, Langston Galloway had 22, C.J. Aiken had 15 and Ronald Roberts had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Hawks, who fell to 9-6 and 1-2 in the conference. VCU is now 15-3, 3-0 and won for the 12th time in a row after breaking into the top 25 earlier this week.
Was the VCU pressing defense the same in person as on tape? "No, it was different. It was different. It wasn't what I expected," said a soft-spoken Jones, who said the Rams' pressure was even more impressive up close.
"They gave us more pressure in the second half," Martelli said. "We are leaving here with a veteran team that had 20 turnovers. Their style is relentless. I saw that on tape. The fans respond to that kind of play."
"That was a great basketball game tonight. Both teams played well. We are getting a heck of an introduction to the Atlantic 10. Every team is coming at us and is giving us their best shot," VCU coach Shaka Smart said.
Treveon Graham made a rare four-point play to give VCU a four-point lead with 3:28 left in overtime and the Rams were on their way. Graham had 25 points, Darius Theus had 22 points and 10 assists and Juvonte Reddic had 15 points and 17 boards for VCU.
Chris Wilson had nine assists for the Hawks, who had just two steals and forced the Rams into just five turnovers. VCU had 11 steals and six blocks.
Saint Joseph's took a 79-75 lead with 29.8 left in regulation on two free throws by Aiken.
But Theus hit a layup with 6.8 seconds left to tie the game at 80 and the Hawks threw the ball away in the closing seconds as the game went overtime.
The pre-season favorite Hawks played without junior forward Halil Kanacevic, who was attending a funeral for his uncle in Montenegro. He is averaging 7.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
Saint Joseph' trailed 38-32 at halftime after trailing by as many as 12 midway through the first half. VCU claimed its 12th win in a row after breaking into the AP top 25 earlier this week.
It took Saint Joseph's just eight seconds to record its first turnover against the pressing Rams in the first trip to the Siegel Center for Martelli.
The Rams took a 26-14 lead on a free throw by Theus, who had 12 points in the first half. But a dunk by Roberts pulled the Hawks to within 28-26 with 3:50 left in the first half.
VCU went on a 6-0 run to take a 36-28 lead but a basket by Jones of the Hawks in the final seconds of the first half to cut the lead to 38-32. A basket by the Rams at the buzzer was disallowed by VCU, which forced eight turnovers and had five steals in the first half.
VCU, which plays a pressing full-court defense, entered the game with an 11-game winning streak and had not lost since back-to-back setbacks to nationally-ranked Duke and Missouri in late November.
The “Havoc” defense played by the Rams is led by sophomore guard Briante Weber, who entered the game averaging 3.6 steals per game. VCU players warm up in T-shirts that read Havoc.
The Rams entered the game with a nation's best 13.2 steals per contest and turnovers forced at 20.8, also the best mark in the land.
St. Joe’s was coming off a win at Duquesne on Saturday while the Rams won at St. Bonaventure, also on Saturday.
Thursday was the first time the Hawks had played at the Siegel Center against VCU, a new member of the Atlantic 10. It was the first time the teams have met since 1982 and third overall.
Notes: Next up for the Hawks is a non-league game on Saturday at 5 p.m. at The Palestra … VCU also has a quick turnaround and plays Saturday at Duquesne in a conference game ... The Siegel Center in downtown Richmond seats 7,600 and opened in 1999 ... Evan Maschmeyer, cleared to play from a fractured hand, entered with 9:29 left in the first half for his first action of the season for the Hawks. He picked up a foul seconds later and had no points in three minutes.