TOLEDO, Ohio — Jaelan Sanford set career highs with 31 points and eight assists to help Toledo beat Saint Joseph's 98-87 in the season opener for both teams on Saturday night.
The Rockets jumped to an 18-4 lead to start the game and never trailed despite a late challenge from the Hawks. Saint Joseph's closed the deficit all the way to 66-64 when Shavar Newkirk made a trio of free throws with 9:44 left in the game.
Nate Navigato's 3-pointer ended that run and sparked an 18-6 Toledo run from which the Rockets never looked back.
Toledo made 14 of 25 from 3-point range. Sanford was 4 of 6 from the arc and 11 of 16 overall from the field. Navigato added five 3s and tied a career high with 22 points, and Tre'Shaun Fletcher scored 13.
Newkirk led Saint Joseph's with 21 points, James Demery and Taylor Funk added 16 each, and Lamarr Kimble scored 10.
Phil Martelli will be joining Juwan Howard's staff as an assistant coach at the University of Michigan.
The 64-year-old Martelli was head coach at Saint Joseph's for 24 years before being fired on March 19. He was named the AP Coach of the Year in 2004 after leading St. Joe's to an undefeated regular season and an appearance in the Elite Eight. St. Joe's had a 444-328 record during Martelli's tenure.
Martelli became an iconic fixture of the Big Five, and of the basketball scene in Philadelphia. He left an enduring legacy off the court as well, including through his work with Coaches vs. Cancer.
At the time of his firing, Martelli issued a statement acknowledging the "pain and the numbness" he felt after being let go.
Billy Lange left his job as an assistant with the Sixers in March to take Martelli's old role.
This will be Martelli's first assistant job since 1995 when he took over as head coach at St. Joe's after 10 seasons as an assistant.
Howard, a member of Michigan's "Fab Five," was introduced Thursday at an emotional press conference. He played 19 NBA seasons before transitioning to coaching.
It's the end of an era on Hawk Hill. After 24 seasons, Phil Martelli is out as the men's basketball coach at St. Joseph's University.
The Hawks finished the 2018-19 season with a 14-19 record, losing in the Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinals last Friday in Brooklyn.
"Following a comprehensive review of the men's basketball program, I have decided to make a change in the leadership of the program. The decision was not an easy one, but I believe it is the right one - for both the men's basketball program and the institution as a whole," St. Joseph's athletics director Jill Bodensteiner said in a statement Tuesday morning.
Martelli took over as St. Joseph's head coach in 1995. He compiled a 444-328 record in 24 seasons and won six A-10 regular season championships, three A-10 Tournament titles and guided the Hawks to seven NCAA Tournament appearances. He is the winningest coach at a school known for producing coaching legends such as Jack Ramsey and Jim Lynam. However the St. Joseph's program slipped in recent years. Following a 28-win season in 2016, the Hawks had a 41-55 record over the last three years.
Martelli led St. Joseph's on a tremendous five-year run from 2000-05, winning five straight A-10 regular season championships and appearing in three NCAA Tournaments over that span. The 2004 season was the high point. Led by national player of the year Jameer Nelson, the Hawks completed a perfect 27-0 regular season and advanced to the Elite Eight before losing to Oklahoma State in the final seconds. Martelli was named the national coach of the year following that 2004 season. But the Hawks have won just one NCAA Tournament game since 2004.
"Basketball is an important strategic asset for the University," said Bodensteiner in her statement. "We have a storied history, and we move forward with the desire and intent to build upon that history, develop a sustained and consistent culture of excellence, and compete for NCAA tournament appearances and conference championships every year." Martelli's dismissal comes during a changing of the guard across the Big 5. Temple's Fran Dunphy will step down at the end of this season following 30 years as a head coach at Temple and Penn. Ashley Howard just completed his first season at La Salle.