CONWAY, S.C. - Charlie Brown, Jr., poured in a career-high 26 points and Taylor Funk made six three-pointers to score 20 as Saint Joseph's earned an 89-69 win over Wake Forest in the opening round of the Myrtle Beach Invitational at the HTC Center.
The Hawks will play on Friday at 1:30 against UCF, which defeated Cal State Fullerton, 68-52.
Funk was 5-for-5 from behind the arc in nine minutes of action in the first half, and finished the game with a career-best 6-of-7 from three-point range. Brown contributed four three-pointers to reach his new personal best in points.
Lamarr Kimble scored 15 points and had five assists, and freshman Jared Bynum scored 11, as the Hawks improved to 3-0 on the year. Saint Joseph’s connected on 16 three-pointers in the game, shooting 53.3 percent from behind the arc. SJU also had 20 assists on 32 baskets, while only committing eight turnovers.
With the teams tied at the half, Brown scored six straight to start a 9-0 Saint Joseph’s run that gave them the 56-49 lead in the first four minutes. Wake Forest (1-1) cut it to 58-54 at 13:59, but that was the closest they would come the rest of the way. Pierfrancesco Oliva had four straight points in a 13-1 run that increased the Hawks’ lead to double digits, 66-54.
Saint Joseph’s kept Wake Forest without a basket for close to five minutes while the Hawks ran off 14 straight points to build up their biggest lead of the game, 87-61. Brown hit a pair of threes in the spurt, while Funk connected on his sixth three-pointer, to help put the game out of reach.
SJU’s defense forced Wake Forest into 14 turnovers and limited the Demon Deacons to just 30 percent shooting in the second half.
"The ability to make baskets, it makes it an easier way to coach. When you measure it out and say these guys are all experienced – (Lamarr) Fresh Kimble, (Pierfrancesco) Checco Oliva, they’re still young, we started three sophomores and a freshman, but I really liked the offensive mindset of this team. There were a couple times when it got tight in the first half, we got out to a lead, we got a little bit maybe happy with ourselves. But in the second, I thought that was beautiful basketball," said head coach Phil Martelli, who is 41-20 all-time in the first game of tournaments.
"Everybody will look at the baskets made by Taylor Funk and Charlie Brown, but a lot of it was directed by Checco Oliva and Fresh Kimble running down rebounds. And we were just older than them in the second half. I thought if we could come at them, a young team like Danny (Manning) has, it’s going to have a tough time holding up against it," said the coach. "I’m pleased with the defense, Anthony Longpre had a couple buckets and his defensive talk and presence was outstanding. We’re delighted to play tomorrow. I was bothered in the first half, they had eight offensive rebounds, they had 10 transition points, but the first two or three possessions in the second half got really tight, really dialed in, and I thought we can go with this."
At the start, the Hawks came out firing as Funk hit his first four three-point attempts to give SJU a 17-10 lead in the first six minutes. Wake Forest tied it, 27-27, at 9:09 on a layup by Isaiah Mucius, and eventually went ahead, 29-27. The Hawks regained the lead and the Demon Deacons took it back one more time, 31-31, but that would be their last lead of the contest.
NOTES: Charlie Brown, Jr., has scored 20-plus points in all three games this season... Graduate student Troy Holston made his Hawk debut and added to the team's three-point total with one of his own. He transferred to SJU from South Florida... Pierfrancesco Oliva had less than 10 rebounds for the first time this year, but SJU still held a 32-31 edge on the boards... SJU shot 51.6 percent from the field in the game. The Hawks have converted 50 percent or better in four of six halves this season.