UNCASVILLE, CONN. - Shavar Newkirk scored 26 points and Pierfrancesco Oliva had a career-high 18 rebounds, but it wasn't enough as Saint Joseph's (5-6) fell to St. John's (10-2), 77-73, in the Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase at Mohegan Sun Arena.
With the score tied at 68, Saint Joseph's went without a field goal for over four minutes, allowing the Red Storm to take a 73-69 lead. The Hawks pulled to within 73-71 but St. John's Shamorie Ponds hit 4-of-4 free throws in the final 23 seconds to put the game of out of reach.
It was a season-high in points for Newkirk while James Demery scored 15 as did Taylor Funk, who hit five three-pointers.
Saint Joseph's last lead of the game, 66-65, came at 5:38 on a three from Funk. Melvin Clarke answered with a three for St. John's, but Newkirk tied the game, 68-68, with a jumper at 4:59, for the final of eight ties in the game.
Trailing at the half, Saint Joseph's came out in the second and went on an 8-0 run, with a pair of three-pointers from Funk, to take a 49-46 lead. Newkirk totaled seven points in two minutes to give Saint Joseph's its biggest lead of the game, 56-48.
St. John's scored six straight to pull within 56-54, and Saint Joseph's handled that sport and went back up by five, 59-54. St. John's then answered with a 7-2 run to force a 61-61 tie.
In the first half, the Hawks led by as much as six points but when leading 31-25, saw St. John's outscore them 15-8, to take a 40-39 lead with over three minutes to go. The Hawks went scoreless for a total of 3:57 until Newkirk hit a jumper with :02 remaining in the half, as St. John's led at the break, 44-41.
Ponds scored a game-high 28 points for St. John'swhile Bashir Ahmed had 16 and Justin Simon scored 11.
Saint Joseph's, which entered the game ranked second in the nation in fewest turnovers (8.7 per game), committed a season-high 19 turnovers, including 12 in the first half.
“The formula was no turnovers and no offensive rebounds (for St. John's). We did a wonderful job on the glass outrebounding a team that is bigger and more athletic. We did a great job there but we're sitting here with 19 turnovers and only six steals (by St. John's) so that means there were 13 walks and balls thrown out of bounds,” said SJU coach Phil Martelli. “So it's really disappointing. We were better than we were on Sunday. Our bodies were out of position – they were driving the ball.”
Funk and Nick Robinson started for the Hawks in place of Newkirk and Anthony Longpré, who were late for the team film session.
Saint Joseph's gets a break for Christmas and then returns to action on December 30 when it opens Atlantic 10 play at George Washington.