TOLEDO, OHIO - Shavar Newkirk returned to the court for Saint Joseph’s, and had 21 points in 17 minutes, but the Hawks lost the season opener at Toledo, 98-87.
James Demery scored 16 points as did freshman Taylor Funk, who hit 4-of-8 from three-point range, in his collegiate debut.
Lamarr Kimble added 10 points for the Hawks, but injured his foot and was undergoing x-rays this evening in Toledo. Kimble missed the final seven games of last season with a fractured foot.
It marked Newkirk’s first game since tearing his ACL on Dec. 30, 2016. The senior made the start for the Hawks and shot 6-of-12 from the field while making 7-of-9 free throws.
Toledo led the entire game and held a 24-9 lead in the first half, but Saint Joseph’s went on a 13-4 run, with five points from Newkirk, to close within 28-22. SJU trailed by just 35-30 with 3:12 to go but the Rockets closed out the half with a 10-6 run to own a 45-36 halftime lead. The Rockets went 7-of-12 from three-point range in the first half.
With Toledo leading 55-41 at 17:46, the Hawks would outscore the Rockets, 17-8, over the next seven minutes. Newkirk was instrumental in the rally, scoring 10 points, and getting the Hawks to within 64-61 at 10:27 on a steal, length of court layup and ensuing free throw. The senior added a free throw at 9:44 to cut SJU’s deficit to 66-64, but it would be the closest the Hawks would come.
SJU was within 69-66 at 8:38 but Toledo would go on a 12-4 run to regain the double-digit lead, 81-70, at 6:10, which would hold the rest of the way.
“From the first day of practice I’ve been concerned about our foot speed. I think it was exposed in the first half when we kind of jittery. There were nine missed layups in the first half,” said Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli. “That is our sixth live half (counting scrimmages) and we’ve only had under 40 points given up in a half in one of them. And now tonight. But it was comforting to know that we could score the ball. Opportunities to win road games come up infrequently and you have to get it.”
“I was delighted for Shavar but I feel badly for Fresh (Kimble). We’ll know more overnight (about Kimble’s possible injury),” said the coach. “But what an effort by Shavar – 21 points in 17 minutes – and knocked down a couple of times. Much credit to (athletic trainer) Bill Lukasiewicz and (strength coach) Brian Bingaman, and his (Shavar’s) courage and heart, and that’s a learned behavior. He’s a tribute to his family.”
Despite going 5-for-14 from three-point range in the first half, Saint Joseph’s heated up in the second, hitting 7-of-12. Funk led the way, making 4-of-6 long-range shots in the half.
The Hawks struggled at the foul line, making just 11-of-20.
Jaieian Sanford had a career-high 31 points to lead Toledo, as he went 4-of-6 from three-point range, while his team hit 14 threes on the evening.
The Hawks played without A-10 All-Rookie selection Charlie Brown, Jr., who will miss at least the first three games with a fractured wrist.
Saint Joseph’s remains on the road and will visit Illinois at Chicago on Monday night. The game will be televised in Philadelphia on NBC Sports Philadelphia+ at 8 p.m. Eastern.