Men's Basketball Opens 2009 at Ball State on Saturday
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications  
Release:  01/02/2009

Jan. 2, 2009

MUNCIE, IND. - Saint Joseph's (5-7) will open 2009 on Saturday at Ball State (5-6), in the final tuneup for Atlantic 10 Conference play, which begins on January 10. Game time at Worthen Arena is 2 p.m.

Tom McCarthy will call the action on WNTP (990 AM) while streaming audio will also be available on free of charge as provided by Stretch Internet.

Click here for complete game notes.

GAME NOTES • Saint Joseph's is in the midst of a two-game losing streak, which is its longest of the season. • Senior Ahmad Nivins tops the Hawks with a league-leading six double-doubles in the first 12 games. He's averaging 18.8 points and 10.4 rebounds. He was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week for Dec. 28 after registering 26 pts-16 rebs in a win over Cornell. • Garrett Williamson ranks second in the Atlantic 10 in assist/turnover ratio (2.26). 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 (.681), offensive rebounds (4.3) and minutes played (38.1). He ranks eighth in nationally in field goal percentage and 12th in rebounding. • Ahmad Nivins joined a group of 10 players in Saint Joseph's history to record over 1,400 points and 700 rebounds. • The Hawks have a week break before opening conference play on January 10 by hosting Rhode Island.

LAST TIME OUT: Drexel used two second-half runs and held off Saint Joseph's, 64-52, on New Year's Eve at the Palestra. Tasheed Carr scored 19 points and Ahmad Nivins had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Hawks. SJU led by as much as 11 points in the first half, but saw Drexel close out the half with a 16-4 run, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Jamie Harris that sent the Dragons into intermission with a 30-28 lead. Leading 35-30 with 15:48 left, the Dragons went on an 11-4 run, then, after a free throw by Carr, scored 12 of the next 14 points to lead 58-37 at the 3:58 mark. SJU went on a major scoring drought, having scored just seven points with seven minutes to play, while shooting 22 percent from the field in the half. Saint Joseph's made a valiant effort to get back in it, going on a 15-1 run to close within 59-52 with 32 seconds left, but could get no closer. The Dragons went 24-for-40 from the foul line and outrebounded the Hawks, 40-27.

SEEING DOUBLE: Ahmad Nivins has now scored in double figures in 70 of the 106 games of his career and in 24 consecutive games. He's grabbed double-figure rebounds 18 times, with a league-leading six double-doubles this season alone. The senior has 16 career double-doubles.

LOSING IT: The loss to Drexel marked the third time this season that the Hawks couldn't hold on to a double-digit lead. The Hawks had an early 11-point lead in the first half against the Dragons but saw it disappear by halftime. Versus Siena, SJU held an 18-point margin with 15:05 to play and saw Siena take the lead with 4:06 remaining. At Holy Cross, SJU led by 12 points at the 10-minute mark but saw the Crusaders go on a 9-1 run to get back into the game, and eventually lost in overtime.

MISSING WHEN IT COUNTS: Although the Hawks have been solid at the foul line thus far, shooting a league-best 73.1 percent as a team, they've missed free throws when it counts. Against Villanova, Darrin Govens missed the front end of a one-and-one with the Hawks leading by one point with :17 to play. In the Siena loss, with SJU leading by a point, Tasheed Carr missed the front end at :10. As a team, the Hawks are converting just 15-for-23 (65.2) from the line in the final minute of play. Ahmad Nivins, the team's top free throw shooter at 78.9 overall, is 7-for-8 (87.5%) in the final minute.

INSIDE FORCES: Forwards Ahmad Nivins and Idris Hilliard have given the Hawks a strong inside game as of late. In the past three games, the duo has combined for 105 points and 54 rebounds while hitting 64.4 percent (38-59) from the field. Nivins had a season-high 26 points and 16 rebounds against Cornell, while Hilliard recorded his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 boards. In the Siena game, Hilliard had a career-best 20 points with nine rebounds while Nivins chipped in 15 points.

BIG MAN ON CAMPUS: Ahmad Nivins is living up to expectations this year as he leads the Hawks in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage. The senior had 26 points and 16 rebounds vs. Cornell, while making 10-of-13 from the field. Since Phil Martelli's teams are mostly known for their guard play, Martelli was asked if Nivins was the best big man he has coached. Martelli agreed to an extent, saying, "To be honest, most of my big guys set screens and get the hell out of the way."

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.

BENCHMARK: The Hawks have not gotten much production from their bench, as reserve players have accounted for just 100 points out of 789, which is 12 percent of the total.