With two teams entering action on three-game losing skids and still trying to find footing midway through the year, it was one of those games - especially in the Big 5 - where, quite simply, someone had to win.
And in a game that featured lengthy runs on both sides, Saint Joseph’s ended up being that team, holding off the University of Pennsylvania, 78-71, at the Palestra Saturday night.
St. Joe's, the official home team on the ticket at the Palestra, led by as many as 15 in the first half before a 12-1 Quakers run led to a four-point Hawks lead, 35-31, at the break.
Penn got a hold of the lead, 36-35, with an early second half spurt but the Hawks, led by Lamarr Kimble’s 23 points (13 in the second half), were able to make more plays and pick up their first win in two weeks.
The loss was the Quakers’ fourth straight. They’ve yet to win in 2017.
Joining Kimble in double figures for the Hawks were Charlie Brown (career-high 19 points), James Demery (15) and Chris Clover (10).
Penn was paced by Matt Howard’s 19 points. Freshman Ryan Betley had 15, including a couple key threes.
Betley’s corner triple got the Quakers within four, 66-62, with 2:44 left.
But the Hawks scored the next four to seize control.
In a close second half looking for a turning point, perhaps a whistle was the moment the game turned.
Late in the shot clock, with the Hawks clinging to a six-point lead, Kimble rose up from deep and was fouled by Jackson Donahue of Penn. All Quakers coach Steve Donahue could do was walk quietly to the other end of his bench in disgust. Kimble made 2 of 3 to push the St. Joe's lead to 70-62 with a little more than a minute to go.
A stop, which Penn would have had if Kimble wasn’t fouled, and the Quakers would have had a chance to cut it to a two-possession game with a manageable clock.
What it means
St. Joe’s, now 51-35 all-time against Penn, needed a confidence booster as it turns back to the crowded Atlantic 10.
Penn is still trying to find the right rotations to win games.
Inside the box score
Penn took 18 shots from beyond the arc in the first half. The Quakers made four of them. They made four on 14 threes in the second half.
Off turnovers, Penn outscored St. Joe’s, 17-4.
The Hawks won the battle in the paint, 36-18.
Penn had 32 fouls as a team and had two players (Tyler Hamilton and Betley) foul out.
Kimble, coming off a nine turnover game, went 9-11 from the free-throw line and had five assists against two turnovers.
St. Joe’s gets back into A-10 play Tuesday at St. Bonaventure before hosting La Salle next Saturday on City Ave.
Penn plays at La Salle Wednesday before a tough Ivy League road weekend the following weekend at Harvard and Dartmouth to kick off February.