St. Joe's comes back to beat George Washington, but Newkirk suffers injury

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St. Joe's comes back to beat George Washington, but Newkirk suffers injury


Before the game, St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli wrote just one word on the whiteboard: win.

At halftime, that word had changed to compete.

“It bothered me to put on the board, the word compete, ” Martelli said. “I don’t like doing that. You get a scholarship, you play hard, that’s the way I see it.

“What we talked about (at the half) was competing. I thought in the first half, we were just out there just playing basketball. And this is the league-play. You don’t play in the league. You can play in the non-conference, but you gotta compete, and we didn’t compete (in our brains), we didn’t compete (in our hearts).

“You get a scholarship, and here’s what you sign: ‘I agree that I will play hard.’ That’s it … And you play hard, everyday. And we didn’t for the first half, across the board.”

Clearly the message was received. After a sluggish first 20 minutes that earned them a six-point halftime deficit, the Hawks fought back to defeat George Washington, 68-63, to open A-10 conference play.

The Hawks improved to 7-5 (1-0 Atlantic 10) while the Colonials fell to 8-6 (0-1).

George Washington abused the Hawks in the paint in the early going, outrebounding St. Joe’s, 24-8, in the first half. Pair that with the Colonials’ blistering 6 for 12 shooting from deep, and the Hawks found themselves down by as many as 12 points.

“The first half was very disappointing,” Martelli said. “We didn’t compete mentally or physically.”

George Washington shot a blistering 46 percent from three in the game, but in the end, it was Saint Joseph’s shooting from deep that made the difference in a game where the Hawks may have lost their leading scorer.

With just a minute to go in the game, and the Hawks clinging to a 64-63 lead, sophomore Lamarr Kimble nailed a contested three with the shot clock winding down to keep St. Joe’s up for good.

“I just took the shot that I’m used to taking,” Kimble said. “My confidence gave me that shot, my teammates believe in me for that shot … I’m happy it went down for us to get the win.

“I stayed confident at the end. If we lose, I’m gonna put that on my shoulders, so I don’t mind taking that last shot and trying to help the team.“

Despite the dagger three, Martelli was not impressed with Kimble’s play overall. Kimble had 13 points on 5 for 16 shooting.

“I don’t think he was very good, I really don’t. Where he led was where you wouldn’t see it. He led in the timeout huddles. He’s gotta play better basketball, and he will, but I was more impressed with his leadership than any of his basketball.”

With just four seconds to go in the first half, it looked like tragedy struck for St. Joe’s. With the Hawks on an 8-2 run, and clawing their way back into the game, Shavar Newkirk stole the ball with a clear path ahead of him.

Newkirk went up for the uncontested layup, but he couldn’t get off the ground. The team’s leading-scorer failed to get the shot off as he grabbed his left leg, hopping to the corner of Hagan Arena as the buzzer sounded.

“I didn’t see it,” Martelli said. “I didn’t see the end of it. I was watching the clock to make sure that he was going to make the layup.”

Newkirk remained facedown behind the Colonials’ bench for over two minutes before being carried off the court. The junior guard returned to the Hawks’ bench halfway through the second half with a heavy brace on his left knee. Newkirk suffered a knee injury, and will have an MRI to determine the severity, according to Martelli.

“I just thought he probably twisted his ankle going up for the layup,” Kimble said. 

With sophomore Chris Clover taking over for Newkirk, the Hawks picked up right where they left off to start the second, quickly tying the game at 39. With an improved defensive effort, it wasn’t long before the Hawks took their first lead of the game at 51-48.

“Just because one of our main players are down, we can’t fold and be sorry about that,” Kimble said. “I think it was good that we went out there and kind of got that for him, knowing that he wasn’t on the court.”

With timely stops on D and a turnaround performance on the boards, the Hawks hung tight with the Colonials, trading leads throughout the final 10 minutes.

Freshman Charlie Brown came up huge for the Hawks down the stretch, hitting a pair of threes to keep pace with the Colonials before Kimble sealed it.

The Colonials — who average 34 percent from three on the year — finished 12 for 26 from beyond the arc. Comparatively, St. Joe’s shot just 5 for 14 from deep, but hit that one that mattered most. 

Penn State holds off Marquette to reach NIT semifinals

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Penn State holds off Marquette to reach NIT semifinals


MILWAUKEE -- Lamar Stevens tied his career high with 30 points, Tony Carr added 25 and Penn State beat Marquette 85-80 on Tuesday night to advance to the NIT semifinals.

The Nittany Lions (24-13) will face Mississippi State (25-11) at Madison Square Garden in New York on March 27. They advanced to the NIT semis for the first time since winning the 2009 tournament.

Stevens hit three crucial buckets in the final three minutes, including a dunk off an alley-oop pass from Josh Reaves for an eight-point lead with one minute left. The 6-foot-8 Stevens then maneuvered through a couple Marquette players to secure a rebound off Andrew Rowsey's missed 3 with 46 seconds left.

Carr went 5 of 8 from the foul line over the final 30 seconds to give Marquette another chance. Rowsey hit a 3 and a layup to get the Golden Eagles as close as 83-80 with six seconds left before the Golden Eagles ran out of time.

Shep Garner scored 19 points and set two Penn State records, including most 3s in a season (112). Garner's 73 career wins are the most in a four-year span since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1992-93.

Rowsey, a senior, scored 29 points for Marquette (21-14).

The Golden Eagles had whittled a 14-point deficit early in the second half to 72-68 with 2:39 left on three foul shots by Rowsey. Penn State went nearly three minutes without a bucket and got sloppy with the ball and the sharpshooting Golden Eagles started hitting 3s to get back in the game.

Villanova, Penn with polar opposite NCAA Tournament draws

Villanova, Penn with polar opposite NCAA Tournament draws

No surprises on the Main Line and well, the Quakers have quite the hill to climb to advance.

Villanova on Sunday night was awarded the 1-seed in the East Region and will face the winner of the LIU Brooklyn/Radford game Thursday in Pittsburgh. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:50 p.m. on TNT.

The Wildcats have been a top-two seed since 2014 and it's the second straight year they're a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova was the No. 1 overall seed in last year's tournament.

Penn was named the 16th seed in the Midwest Region and will face the No. 1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks on Thursday at 2 p.m. on TBS in Wichita, Kansas.

Steve Donahue has the Quakers back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007 in his third season as Penn's head coach.

The Quakers are 24-8 and this will be their 24th-ever appearance in the tournament.

'Nova survived a scare from Providence on Saturday night to win its second straight Big East title and its third in the past four years.

If the Wildcats beat LIU Brooklyn/Radford, they'll face the winner of the No. 8-seeded Virginia Tech and No. 9 seed Alabama. Purdue is the No. 2 seed in the East.

Also in the East are No. 3 Texas Tech and No. 4 Wichita State.