Charlie Brown scored 20 points and Pierfancesco Oliva had his first career double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds as Saint Joseph’s (1-0) defeated Old Dominion, 79-64, in the Hawks’ season opener at Hagan Arena. Lamarr Kimble added 14 points as did freshman Jared Bynum in his collegiate debut.
The game marked a long-awaited return to the court for Brown and Kimble, who both missed last season with injuries. Brown hit 6-of-11 from the field and connected on 4-of-6 from three-point range while Kimble went 3-of-4 from the line and handed out three assists in his first action since last year’s season opener.
Oliva came off the bench to record the double-double, while shooting 6-of-9 from the field.
Trailing 39-38 with 1:20 to play in the first half, Brown and Oliva hit the final two baskets of the half and started a 16-5 Hawks’ run that carried into the second half. A three-pointer by Taylor Funk at 13:53 gave Saint Joseph’s a 54-41 lead, for its biggest to that point.
Old Dominion (1-1) came within 56-49 on five straight points from B.J. Stith but the Hawks quickly built it back up to double digits, 60-49, on free throws from Brown and Kimble.
The Monarchs cut it to seven points, 61-54, one more time, but SJU went on a 12-2 run that included three-pointers from Bynum, Brown and Funk.
Old Dominion was led by 22 points from Ahmad Caver and 12 each from Xavier Green and Marquis Godwin.
"I loved the offensive pace. We come out of there with 79 points and we still missed half a dozen lay-ups. That was a kick in the teeth for last year's group. We missed 135 lay-ups in 32 games last year,” said head coach Phil Martelli. “I thought that Checco [Oliva] made the difference. He's making calls. I'm not a big label guy, but he is the epitome of a point-forward. Whoever is playing is playing."
"Checco is the one who volunteered not to start. None of those three guys played well enough all preseason to say, 'Well, you're a definite starter.' So, Checco was mature enough to say, 'Let them start, I got it.' We may change that for the next game when I look at the matchups later tonight,” said the coach. “The pace was great. That was an Atlantic 10-level win. I'm happy for the players."
The Hawks are right back at it on Monday night when they host Monmouth at Hagan Arena.