Jan. 9, 2008
AMHERST, Mass. -- The Hawks opened Atlantic 10 play with an emphatic 98-92 victory over Massachusetts at the Mullins Center on Wednesday night. Behind the stellar play of junior center Ahmad Nivins (career high 31 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks) and senior forward Pat Calathes (21 points and 15 rebounds) the Hawks ran comfortably with the run-and-gun Minutemen.
Saint Joseph's used a 32-13 run that spanned two halves to put away the Massachusetts. Nivins couldn't be stopped as he propelled SJU to a 52-44 half time lead with his 20 points. That eight-point lead stretched to 17 twice at 69-52 and 71-54 with 14:40 to play.
The game was played at a furious pace as evidenced by the 96 first-half points. UMass eventually chipped away at the lead after switching to a 2-3 zone. The Minutemen cut margin to 6 at 83-77 with 5:24 remaining on a trio of Etienne Brower free throws.
SJU responded quickly with a Nivins lay up off a Darrin Govens assist. Govens finished with 15 points, eight assists, and three steals in his most complete game of the season.
The lead grew to 12 on three occasions, the last being after two Tasheed Carr (14 points, eight rebounds) free throws at 95-83 with 36 seconds remaining. UMass never truly challenged the Hawk lead in the second half.
For the game SJU out rebounded the Minutemen 45-30 which led to 18 second chance points for the Hawks, while Saint Joseph's scored 56 of their 98 points in the paint.
SJU shot an outstanding 22-for-33 (66.7%) in the first half, while also making 16-of-19 free throws (84.2%). Nivins and Calathes were a perfect 13-for-13 from the charity stripe.
The Hawks improved to 8-4 (1-0 A-10) on the season while UMass dropped to 11-4 (0-1 A-10). The Hawks are next in action on Saturday taking on the Richmond Spiders, winners at La Salle 75-74 in triple overtime. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse.