James Demery scored 25 points and Pierfrancesco Oliva scored a career-high 22 points as Saint Joseph’s (9-9; 4-3 A-10) used a strong second half to defeat Fordham, 68-46, for the Hawks’ fifth straight win at Hagan Arena.
Demery matched his season-high and had seven rebounds while Oliva grabbed eight boards and connected on a career-best three three-pointers as the Hawks upped their home record to 6-1 on the year.
The Hawks broke open a close game in the second half, going on a 17-6 spurt in the first nine minutes to take a 45-33 lead on a layup by Oliva at 11:04. Fordham (6-13; 1-6) came within 50-42 on a three-pointer by Prokop Slanina at 7:22, but SJU outscored Fordham, 18-4, the rest of the way to seal the victory.
Saint Joseph’s shot 42.4 percent from the field in the second half, while forcing Fordham into 20 turnovers, with 10 in each half. SJU, which ranks third in the nation in fewest turnovers, had just seven in the game while recording 21 assists on 26 baskets.
Oliva and Demery did all of SJU's scoring in the first half as well, combining for 23 of SJU’s 33 points. Fordham led for the majority of the half, by as much as 22-17 at the 10-minute mark, and 23-19 with 5:23 to play. A three-pointer by Taylor Funk at 1:59 gave Saint Joseph’s the lead, 26-25, which it would keep at halftime, 28-27, and throughout the rest of the contest.
"The big number was going to be turnovers, and to come out of that with seven, and really a handful of those were avoidable. In the first half, the guys who were being guarded shot too quick and didn't gather themselves, and the guys who were wide open never stayed in their game until late in the half when we went smaller,” said Hawk coach Phil Martelli. “But I was really impressed with the defense in the second half, the rebounding in the second half, and staying the course. A lot of that first half was on me. We had a poor practice yesterday and I should have grinded on them a little bit more than that."
Slanina and Joseph Chartouny each scored 11 points for Fordham, which was held to 21.2 percent three-point shooting in the game.
Saint Joseph’s, which has won two in a row, will head to St. Bonaventure on Wednesday, January 24 for a 7 p.m. game, with the national telecast on the CBS Sports Network. The Hawks defeated the Bonnies two weeks ago in Hagan Arena.