Dec. 8, 2008
PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's men's basketball team (3-4) will visit Towson (4-2) on Tuesday, December 9, in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Towson Center.
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.
GAME NOTES: The Hawks are in the midst of a string of four games in 11 days, before breaking for final exams after the Villanova game on Dec. 11. Senior Ahmad Nivins leads the way for the Hawks with a league-leading five double-doubles in the first seven games. He's averaging 18.3 points and 11.7 rebounds and earned A-10 Co-Player of the Week honors for the second time this season. Garrett Williamson ranks second in the Atlantic 10 in assist/turnover ratio (2.2). Ahmad Nivins leads the A-10 in field goal percentage (67.7), offensive rebounds (4.7) and minutes played (38.5). The Hawks face rival Villanova on Tuesday at The Pavilion. The 8 p.m. game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. It marks the first time the game will be played in December since 2000-01. For the past seven years, the rivalry has been played in late January/early February. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams. At a point in each program's history, they were members of the East Coast Conference, but not at the same time. Saint Joseph's was an ECC member from 1974 through 1982.
LAST TIME OUT: Creighton used a barrage of three-pointers and held off a late Saint Joseph's rally to defeat the Hawks, 69-58, at The Palestra. Creighton connected on a season-high 13-of-28 from beyond the arc. Ahmad Nivins had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks for his fifth double-double of the season. He went 5-for-8 from the field and made 8-of-10 from the foul line. Darrin Govens added 13 points for SJU and Tasheed Carr had 11 points and a career-high nine rebounds. The Blue Jays (5-2) led 58-37 with 7:52 left to play in the game when the Hawks went on an 18-3 run, and two straight layups by Carr cut the lead to 61-55 with 1:07 to go. Four Creighton free throws would end the threat. Creighton built up its first double-digit lead, 24-14, with 8:49 to play in the first half and took a 32-20 margin into intermission.
SEEING DOUBLE: Ahmad Nivins has now scored in double figures in 65 of the 101 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.
ROAD WARRIORS: The Hawks have been on the road for five of seven games thus far, with just one at the Wachovia Center and one at this year's homecourt, The Palestra. They are 1-1 in away games in 1-2 on neutral courts.
STRAIGHT SHOOTER: Senior Ahmad Nivins is vying to join former George Washington standout Alexander Koul (1995-97) as the only players in A-10 history to lead the league in field goal percentage three consecutive years. Nivins shot .647 (165-of-255) from the field a year ago, setting the SJU single-season mark while also ranking fourth in the nation. He currently leads the conference hitting 67.7 percent this season and holds the Saint Joseph's career record with a percentage of .638 (453-710).
RALLY POINTS: Despite trailing by 21 points with 8:58 to play against Creighton, the Hawks staged an impressive rally and closed to within six points, 61-55, with 1:07 remaining. Then four free throws by the Bluejays put the game out of reach. The Hawks held Creighton scoreless for 5 1/2 minutes and used a 20-5 run over seven minutes, led by five points from Darrin Govens and four each from Tasheed Carr and Ahmad Nivins.
DEFENDING THE ARC: Entering the Creighton game, the Hawks were limiting their foes to shooting 27.3 percent from beyond the arc. But Creighton hit a barrage of 3-pointers, going 13-for-28, and outscored the Hawks from beyond the arc, 39-6, The 13 3-pointers made was the most allowed by the Hawks this year.
THE NUMBERS GAME: For the most part, the Hawks have been solid defensively, limiting the opponents to 63.3 points per game. But unfortunately for Saint Joseph's, the Hawks are only scoring 64.4 points per contest. Phil Martelli said, "One of our concerns all year is going to be shooting the ball. We felt like if we could hold this team (Creighton) in the 65-point range that we would be in the game. But that was not the case." Creighton scored 69, while the Hawks were limited to 58 points, and lost the battle from behind the 3-point line, hitting just 2-of-15 long-range shots while the Bluejays made 13-of-28.
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARDS: Phil Martelli has stressed that for the Hawks to be successful, Ahmad Nivins has to average double-figure rebounds. Martelli said of the senior, "His game is in great shape. But if he's a double-digit rebounder, then he will be playing for money next year and we'll be playing late into the season. If he's not a double-digit rebounder, then we're going to be in a little bit of trouble." Nivins has gotten off to a good start, posting five double-doubles in the first seven games of the season and averaging 18.3 points and 11.7 rebounds.
SEASON OF GIVING: The Hawks shared the ball at Lehigh, posting 20 assists on 27 field goals. Garrett Williamson led the way, handing out eight. In the three games of the Maui Invitational, Williamson had 18 assists, which was the third best number in the tournament. The junior had a high of nine assists vs. Texas and leads the team with 4.7 per game.
AHMAD'S ACCOLADES: Ahmad Nivins was named the Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week for the second time this year (Dec. 7), sharing the award with Xavier's B.J. Raymond. The 6-9 forward averaged 19 points and 14 rebounds in the Hawks' 1-1 week. He scored 20 and pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds in Saint Joseph's 77-64 win at Lehigh and followed that with a team-high 18 points and 11 boards versus Creighton. In the two game, Nivins connected on 12-of-18 field goal attempts.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Hawks face rival and 15th-ranked Villanova on Thursday at The Pavilion, for a nationally-televised contest (ESPN2). Then SJU takes a break for final exams and returns with three straight games at the Palestra, beginning December 22 against Cornell.