No. 13 St. Louis shuts down St. Joe's

Posted: February 07, 2014

St. Joseph's basketball team was looking to make a statement, the kind that can leave a favorable impression on the NCAA tournament committee. Looking to accomplish something for the first time in nearly 48 years, the Hawks instead ran into a defensive buzz saw.

No. 13 St. Louis held St. Joseph's to six first-half field goals in building a 13-point halftime lead on the way to a 65-49 victory Wednesday night at Hagan Arena. That was a season-low in scoring for the Hawks, whose previous low came in a 53-52 win over Denver. The Hawks shot just 1 for 15 from beyond the arc against a Billikens team that had an all-senior starting five.

"They are balanced and played like older guys and played more confidently than we did," St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said.

St. Joseph's (15-7 overall, 5-3 Atlantic Ten) was coming off Saturday's 73-68 win over then-No. 21 Massachusetts.

The last time the Hawks beat ranked teams in back-to-back games was March 2 and 7, 1966, when they defeated No. 8 Providence twice, including once in the NCAA tournament.

That's a place St. Joseph's aspires to reach for the first time since 2008, and a win over the Billikens, coupled with the UMass victory, would have improved the Hawks' resumé. St. Joe's faces another A-10 heavyweight when it hosts VCU on Saturday, so this could have been an eventful eight-day period.

Yet St. Louis (21-2, 8-0) ruined any momentum the Hawks hoped to gain. The Billikens entered the game as the A-10's top team in scoring defense, allowing a measly 59 points per game.

Ronald Roberts Jr. led the Hawks with 19 points. Rob Loe, a 6-foot-11 senior from New Zealand, paced the Billikens with 17 points.

St. Joseph's leading scorer, Langston Galloway, was held to six points on 3-for-13 shooting. Galloway, who was guarded by Jordair Jett, missed all four three-pointers.

"He is their leading scorer and our game plan was to make it hard for them to get it to him and when he did to contest his shots," said Jett, who had 10 points and seven assists.

Said Galloway: "They were trying to deny the wings and it is always tough when you are getting denied the ball."

Leading by 25-20, the Billikens went on a 10-0 run late in the first half, and with the way their defense was playing, that would be enough. St. Louis held the Hawks to 6-for-22 shooting in the first half.

St. Joseph's cut the margin to seven points just past the midway point of the second half, but would get no closer.

St. Louis forced 17 turnovers. In addition, the Billikens shot 15 for 17 from the foul line, compared with 18 for 30 for St. Joseph's.


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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