CHICAGO, ILL. – James Demery scored a game-high 25 points and freshman Taylor Funk scored 22 points as Saint Joseph's (1-1) fought back from a nine-point second half deficit to defeat Illinois at Chicago, 86-82, in overtime at UIC Pavilion.
Funk, who finished with nine rebounds, scored 11 of the Hawks' final 14 points of the second half, including a three-pointer with 40.6 seconds to play to send the game into overtime, 74-74.
Shavar Newkirk had 16 points in his second game after returning from an ACL injury while Pierfrancesco Oliva scored 11.
In the overtime, SJU went up 83-78 on a three-point play by Demery with 39 seconds to go. A pair of free throws by Newkirk increased the lead to 85-78 but UIC's Tarkus Ferguson hit a three to cut it to 85-82.
With SJU trailing 65-56, Funk had eight points in an 11-0 Saint Joseph's run that tied the game at 67-67 with over four minutes to play. But the Flames answered with six straight to go back up 73-67. Baskets by Robinson and Demery pulled SJU within 73-71.
“It was a great win for the heart as we were down. We had contributions across the board and on the bench from the assistant coaches,” said coach Phil Martelli. “We had some really, really unbelievable plays on both sides of the ball. We just tried to stay with the game plan, and stretch the bench. The best part is we got a win knowing we have to play better and we will have to play better across the board. And to come after a loss and not really much practice time, and we're still piecing together Shavar's playing time- on the road it's a good win for the heart.”
“Taylor is not selfish enough yet. He has to know we expect him to take those shots. He hit that big jumper and did some really grown up things. He's a gifted kid – I don't know how many freshmen have scored 38 points in their first two games.”
SJU had its biggest lead, 47-42, early in the second half but the Flames tied it, 47-47, and went ahead. UIC went on a 7-0 spurt to increase its lead to 60-53 before Newkirk stopped the run with a three-point, to pull SJU within 60-56. The Flames then upped it to 65-56 for their biggest lead at that point.
The teams played a tight half with eight ties and the biggest lead being UIC's 20-15 advantage. Funk had seven straight points for the Hawks to help them tie the game and take a 23-22 lead on Chicago native Lorenzo Edwards' first career three-pointer.
SJU held its biggest lead of the half, 32-28 on baskets by Oliva and Newkirk and then maintained the lead at halftime, 42-40.
The Hawks were without junior Lamarr Kimble (foot) and Charlie Brown, Jr. (wrist) on the trip. Kimble will be evaluated by doctors to determine the length of time he will miss, while Brown will be re-evaluated next week to determine his return.
Saint Joseph's will open the home slate on Saturday, November 18 when it hosts Princeton at 7 p.m. at Hagan Arena.