Guards Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble combined for 44 points by each hitting career-highs to lead Saint Joseph’s to a 77-76 win over Toledo in the season opener for both teams at Hagan Arena.

Newkirk, a junior, tallied career-highs of 28 points and seven rebounds, while sophomore Kimble scored 16 points. Junior James Demery had 11 points and tied his career-high with eight rebounds for SJU (1-0).

Jonathan Williams led Toledo with 18 points and Steve Taylor, Jr., had 14. Daniel Dzierzawski added 13 points for the Rockets (0-1).

The game was a back-and-forth contest with a total of 25 lead changes in the second half. Saint Joseph’s took the final lead of the game, 72-71, on a putback by sophomore Markell Lodge with 1:42 to play. Newkirk hit a jumper at :45 to increase the Hawks’ lead to its biggest of the game, 74-71, and added a pair of free throws to push it to 76-71 with 25 seconds to play. Toledo countered with a layup by Daniel Dzierzawski at :19 but Demery made one of two free throws at :11 to give the Hawks a 77-73 lead. Jalen Sanford hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to provide the final margin.

"I really appreciated the student turnout," said SJU coach Phil Martelli of the sellout crowd. "There's a lot of things that we can work on here moving forward. Obviously, we have to be a much better defensive team. We got taken advantage of by some older players. But we got some things from different guys "I thought Nick Robinson comported himself well. Markell (Lodge) contributed."

"I don't really get hung up on who handles the ball or who doesn't handle the ball. I just want us to run offense. I thought, for the most part, except when we got fast, we were able to run our offense."

In the first half, the Hawks trailed by as much as 32-24 with five minutes to play in the half, but Kimble hit a three-pointer to start a 14-5 run. SJU took its first lead of the game, 38-37, on a free throw by Kimble at 1:28. After a three by Toledo’s Jordan Lauf, SJU’s Jai Williams dunked in a pass from Newkirk to knot the game at 40-40. Sanford hit a free throw to provide the Rockets with a 41-40 halftime lead.

Saint Joseph’s 2015-16 Atlantic 10 champion team was honored prior to the game, as the championship banner was unveiled. It marked SJU’s second A-10 title in three years. "It's nice to see another banner up there and getting to work to hopefully get another one," said Martelli.

SJU will host Columbia on Monday at 7 p.m. before heading to the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands next week.

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