Nov. 12, 2010
PHILADELPHIA - Sergio Kerush scored 31 points to lead Western Kentucky to a 98-70 win over Saint Joseph's in the season opener for both teams at the sold-out Hagan Arena.
Kerush, the Preseason Player of the Year in the Sun Belt Conference, shot 11-for-15 from the field and grabbed nine rebounds.
The boisterous Hagan Arena crowd welcomed the new-look Hawks, with new gray uniforms and a starting lineup that included three freshmen. It was the most freshmen to make the start on opening day in the 16 years under coach Phil Martelli.
The Hilltoppers built up an 18-10 lead in the first half and increased it to 22-13 with 10:24 to play. Saint Joseph's then went on a 9-0 run, tying the score at 22 on a jumper by Jones. But WKU answered right back with consecutive three-pointers from Steffphon Pettigrew and Kerush to give the visitors the 28-22 lead. Western Kentucky would end up with a 48-38 lead by halftime, shooting 51.4 percent in the half.
WKU barely missed in the second half, converting 21-of-29 field goals (72.4 percent), and built its lead up to 69-50 with 12:25 to play on a three-pointer by Kerush. The Hilltoppers' biggest lead was 93-63 with 3:39 to play.
"The best part is that you have to play your first game at some point and we now have that behind us. It's not in a fashion you want it to be in, but the older and physically stronger guys for them dominated the game," said Martelli. "They played good basketball but we played skittish so now it's behind us and we have to get back to work to prepare for a game Tuesday night on the road (at Penn State)."
SJU struggled from beyond the arc, making just 6-of-29 three-pointers.
It snapped a five-game winning streak for the Hawks in season-opening games.