Dec. 21, 2008
PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's men's basketball team (4-5) returns to action after a break for final exams by hosting Cornell (5-5) on Monday, December 22 at The Palestra. The game is the second of a doubleheader as the SJU women's team will host Seton Hall beginning at 5:00 p.m., with the men's game slated for 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are still available for the game by calling 610-660-1712.
The Saint Joseph's Sports Network team of Tom McCarthy and Joe Lunardi will broadcast the game on WNTP (990 AM). Streaming audio will also be available on www.sjuhawks.com free of charge as provided by Stretch Internet. Streaming video will also be available thru a subscription to Hawks' All-Access.
GAME NOTES This is the Hawks' last game before Christmas. They return from the holiday break for a Dec. 28th meeting with Siena here at the Palestra. SJU is looking to string together consecutive wins for the first time this season. This is the second game of a Saint Joseph's doubleheader as the Hawks' women's team takes on Seton Hall beginning at 5 p.m. Senior Ahmad Nivins tops the Hawks with a league-leading five double-doubles in the first nine games. He's averaging 18.8 points and 11.0 rebounds. Garrett Williamson ranks second in the Atlantic 10 in assist/turnover ratio (2.33). The junior fell two points shy of a triple-double when he had 8 points-10 rebounds-10 assists at Towson. Ahmad Nivins leads the A-10 in field goal percentage (65.8), offensive rebounds (4.5) and minutes played (38.4). He ranks sixth in nationally in field goal percentage and 11th in rebounding. Darrin Govens has notched double figures in all but one game. He scored 22 in the win at Towson and followed that with 18 points against Villanova.
LAST TIME OUT: Despite leading for most of the game, Saint Joseph's fell to city rival, 15th-ranked Villanova, 59-56. The Hawks came out strong, shooting 56 percent, and kept the sold-out Pavilion crowd fairly quiet for most of the first half, leading by as much as 35-26 at halftime. SJU kept the lead for most of the second half, holding a 41-32 lead before Villanova scored nine straight points to tie it. Ahmad Nivins' free throws at :45 gave the Hawks a 56-55 lead but Darrin Govens missed the front end of a one-and-one at :17 which would've given the Hawks a cushion. VU's Scottie Reynolds made two free throws at :05 to give the Wildcats the lead, and SJU turned the ball over on the inbounds to allow Villanova to hit two more free throws and secure the win. Govens finished with 18 points, Nivins had 16 and Idris Hilliard had a career-high eight rebounds.
SEEING DOUBLE: Ahmad Nivins has now scored in double figures in 67 of the 103 games of his career. He's grabbed double-figure rebounds 18 times, with a league-leading five this season alone. The senior has 15 career double-doubles.
PRIME-TIME PLAYER: Ahmad Nivins is living up to expectations this year as he leads the Hawks in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage. The senior had 16 points and eight rebounds at Villanova, while making 6-of-11 from the field.
INSIDE-OUTSIDE: The inside-outside combination of Ahmad Nivins and Darrin Govens provided a performance at Towson that the Hawks have been waiting for. Nivins made 9-of-12 shots, and 7-of-8 from the foul line, en route to a game-high 25 points. Govens had the hot hand from the perimeter to connect on 7-of-13 and score 22 points.
HEADING INTO THE HOLIDAY: Phil Martelli's teams are 6-7 in the game before Christmas, but have won the last two. SJU won at Fairfield last season and defeated Saint Mary's the year before. It's the first time the Hawks have played this game at the Palestra since Dec. 21, 2002 when they defeated DePaul.
SPREADING CHRISTMAS CHEER: For the 14th consecutive year, the Hawks have undertaken an annual Christmas project to help needy families in West Philadelphia. Using donations from the Saint Joseph's community and fans (collected at the Creighton game), the players shopped on December 13 for the families and then delivered the gifts on December 20.
DOING IT ALL: Garrett Williamson just missed a triple-double at Towson when he fell two points shy. The junior had eight points, tied his career-high with 10 rebounds and notched a personal best 10 assists. The last time a Hawk registered that statistical rarity was on Feb. 19, 2005 when Dwayne Jones had 11 points-11 rebounds-10 blocks vs. St. Bonaventure.
ON HIS SHOULDERS: Phil Martelli's admitted that's he's placed a huge burden on the shoulders of Ahmad Nivins. "If he's in the conversation for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, then we have a chance to be a good team. If he's not the best player on the floor each game, then we're in trouble. Certainly our players and Ahmad understand the burden that's been placed on him, and Ahmad has willingly accepted it."
ROAD WARRIORS: This begins a three-game stretch for the Hawks at this year's homecourt, The Palestra. SJU has been on the road for all but two games thus far, with one at the Wachovia Center and one at The Palestra. They are 2-2 in away games in 1-2 on neutral courts.