Feb. 25, 2009
PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's Hawks (14-12; 7-5 A-10) will host #19 Xavier (22-5; 10-3) in an Atlantic 10 showdown on Thursday evening at The Palestra. The game will be televised on ESPN2 with the starting time of 7 p.m. A limited number of tickets are still available by calling 610-660-1712.
Jon Sciambi, Doug Gottlieb and Tom Brennan will call the game for ESPN2. The Saint Joseph's Sports Network team of Tom McCarthy and Joe Lunardi will broadcast the game on WNTP (990 AM). Streaming audio will be available on www.sjuhawks.com free of charge as provided by Stretch Internet. The game will also be available for viewing on ESPN360.com.
Game NotesClick here for complete game notes.
GAME NOTES: SJU has lost four in a row, for its longest losing streak of the season, and longest since a four-game streak that lasted until Dec. 31, 2004. A-10 Player of the Year candidate Ahmad Nivins tops the Hawks with a league-leading 18 double-doubles and is averaging a team-high 19.5 points and 11.6 rebounds. He has scored in double figures in 38 consecutive games, also the best in the Atlantic 10. Ahmad Nivins leads the A-10 in field goal percentage (.641) and ranks third nationally. He also tops the league in rebounding (11.6), offensive rebounds (3.9), defensive rebounds (7.6) and minutes played (39.5), while ranking among the conference's top 10 in eight categories. He leads the A-10 in scoring and rebounding in conference games with 20.2 pts and 12.6 rebs. Saint Joseph's tops the A-10 in free throw percentage both in overall games (74.4) and conference games (76.6), while ranking 24th in the nation. Saint Joseph's and Xavier are meeting only once this season for the first time since the 2004-05 season. Last year, the teams played three times with a meeting in the A-10 semifinals. This evening's matchup between Jesuit schools Saint Joseph's and Xavier is part of the nationwide Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project (more on page 10) SJU seniors Ahmad Nivins, Tasheed Carr and Edwin Lashley will be honored prior to the St. Bonaventure game on Sunday in their final regular season home game.
LAST TIME OUT: Chris Lowe hit two free throws with two seconds remaining, as Massachusetts nipped Saint Joseph's, 70-69, at The Palestra, to give the Hawks their fourth straight loss. Despite leading for almost the entire second half, SJU fell behind, 66-65, at :48. UMass increased its lead to 68-65 with :17 left before Garrett Williamson brought the Hawks to within 68-67 with two free throws at :11. Ahmad Nivins stole UMass' inbounds pass and fed it to Tasheed Carr, who drove to the basket and was fouled. Carr converted both shots to give the Hawks a 69-68 lead at 6.4 seconds, but UMass' Lowe drove the length of the court and was fouled at :02. He made the winning free throws and SJU had one last chance but Carr couldn't connect on the 3/4 court pass to Nivins. Nivins had 21 points and 11 rebounds for his 18th double-double, Idris Hilliard added 12 points and 11 rebounds, Carr contributed 12 points and Williamson had 10 for Saint Joseph's. SJU was 0-for-7 from 3-point territory, snapping a streak of 495 consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer made. The streak began at the end of the 1992-93 season.
SEEING DOUBLE: Atlantic 10 and Big 5 Player of the Year candidate Ahmad Nivins has now scored in double figures in 84 of the 120 games of his career and in an A-10 leading 38 consecutive games. He's grabbed double-figure rebounds 29 times, with a league-leading 18 double-doubles this season, to give him 27 career double-doubles.
POST PRODUCTION: Ahmad Nivins is one of the most efficient and productive offensive players in the nation. The senior is registering 2.0 points per every shot taken. There have been games where Nivins has gotten most of his points from the foul line. La Salle limited him to a season-low three field goal attempts, but he went 9-for-12 from the line. Against George Washington, Nivins took five shots but converted 10-of-11 free throws.
FREEBIES: Free throw shooting has been one of the Hawks' strengths all season, and they have put up solid numbers in the last few games. Ahmad Nivins has led the way, shooting close to 90 percent. Here's the breakdown: Last 7 games: Team 78.3 pct (116-148); Nivins 88.4 pct (46-52) Last 4 games: Team 80.3 pct (61-76); Nivins 87.1 pct (27-31)
THREE-LESS: SJU went 0-for-7 from 3-point range against UMass (Feb. 22) to snap a streak of 495 games with at least one 3-pointer made. The last game prior to UMass in which a Hawks' team did not hit a "three" was at Southwest Missouri State on Mar. 18, 1993.
THREE-LESS, PART 2: In the current four-game losing streak, the Hawks are shooting just 29.2 percent (14-for-48) from 3-point range.
HAWKS VS. THE POLLS: Saint Joseph's last victories over a Top 25 team came in 2007-08 when it defeated Xavier twice in a span of two weeks. The Hawks topped #8 Xavier, 71-66, on March 6, 2008, in the final game at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse, and then beat the 12th-ranked Musketeers on March 14 in the A-10 Semifinals. This season, the Hawks lost to #6 Texas and #15 Villanova.
FACE THE NATION: Ahmad Nivins ranks among the top 50 in the nation in four categories - field goal percentage (3rd); rebounding (6th); scoring (35th); and blocked shots (58th).
IRON MAN: In the statistics calculated by www.kenpom.com, Ahmad Nivins ranks second in the nation in percentage of team's minutes played at 95.9 percent. Nivins is averaging 39.5 minutes per game and has played 1027 out of a possible 1065 minutes for the Hawks this season.
SELECT CLUB: Ahmad Nivins has surpassed the 1,600-point mark in his career (1,683) and is 9th on the all-time scoring list. With 878 career rebounds (ranks 9th), the senior is just one of six players in Saint Joseph's history to record over 1,600 points and 800 rebounds. He is also only one of five players in school history to rank in the top 10 in both scoring and rebounding, joining this select group: Tony Costner - 1,729 pts (4th); 951 rebs (4th) Cliff Anderson - 1,728 pts (5th); 1,228 rebs (1st) Norman Black - 1,726 pts (6th); 906 rebs (7th) Mike Bantom - 1,684 pts (8th); 1,151 rebs (2nd)
LOOKING AHEAD: Saint Joseph's closes out the home portion of the schedule hosting St. Bonaventure on March 1 and then visits Temple (March 5) and Fordham (March 7) to finish the regular season.