FULLERTON, CALIF. – Washington State overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to defeat Saint Joseph’s, 75-71, in the opening round of the Wooden Legacy at Titan Gym. Saint Joseph’s will face Harvard on Friday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, with the broadcast on ESPN3.
With SJU leading 71-70 at :25, Malachi Flynn connected on a three-pointer at :06 to put Washington State (4-0) up, 73-71. The Hawks inbounded at :05, but turned the ball over, allowing Viont’e Daniels to ice the game with a pair of free throws at :02.
Shavar Newkirk led SJU with 24 points while James Demery scored 13 and Pierfrancesco Oliva posted a career-high 10 rebounds for Saint Joseph’s (2-2).
In the first half Saint Joseph’s outscored the Cougars, 30-2, over the final 10 minutes, to lead by as much as 20 points. Washington State reversed that in the second half and trailing, 46-29, at 17:30, went on an 8-0 run to close to within 46-37 with 15:19 to play.
With the Hawks holding a 55-47 lead on a three-pointer by Newkirk at 9:26, Washington State scored seven straight points and took its first lead since the first half, 56-55, on a three by Robert Franks. The teams would trade leads and have four more ties, before WSU took the lead for good on Flynn’s shot at :06.
In the first half, Saint Joseph’s put together a 26-0 run over nine minutes to take a 36-16 lead with three minutes to play in the half. Seven different players scored for the Hawks in the spurt, and SJU closed out the half outscoring the Cougars, 30-2, to take a 38-24 halftime lead.
Washington State’s lone bucket in the stretch came by way of a layup from Robert Franks with 2:53 to play.
Saint Joseph’s connected on 16-of-35 from the field in the second half, but went just 10-for-31 in the second half. Washington State hit 16-of-28 field goals in the second half to pace the comeback.
"Obviously we played stretches of really efficient basketball so you have to be disappointed. The kid (Malachi Flynn) made a tough shot but before then our transition defense even on makes wasn't strong enough. We knew that they would come with the one-three-one, we got a little panicky, we started moving all over the court instead of just settling in,” said Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli.
"You walk out of here shooting 34 three's, that's not our game. We have guys that should shoot them and we just kind of indiscriminately started putting the ball in the air. The plus is you get to play tomorrow and the lesson learned is that the next time we'll play back-to-back games would be in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. To lose like that and go home would be crushing."