NORMAL, Ill. – Junior Shavar Newkirk led the Hawks with 21 points, but the Saint Joseph's men's basketball team ultimately fell to Illinois State, 81-72, on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Freshman Charlie Brown also reached double figures with 14 points, including 4-of-8 from three-point range.
Trailing 41-27 at halftime, Saint Joseph's (5-5) got back into the game with 13-4 run to cut the deficit to five. Sophomore Lamarr Kimble scored seven of his nine points during the run, including a three-pointer to bring the deficit under double digits at 45-36 with 15:42 to go. Consecutive baskets by senior Javon Baumann and sophomore Chris Clover capped off a 7-0 stretch and made it a 45-40 game at the 11:56 mark.
Paris Lee ended a nearly five-minute scoring drought for Illinois State (6-3) with a three, but senior Brendan Casper answered with one of his own to make it 48-43 with 11:13 remaining. That preceded a 9-2 stretch for the Redbirds over the next two and a half minutes, but after the teams traded baskets, Newkirk hit shots on consecutive possessions to get things back to single digits at 59-51 with 7:18 to play.
Unfortunately for the Crimson and Gray, the Hawks would get no closer than eight the rest of the way. Newkirk hit a layup at the 3:38 mark to make it a 68-60 game, but five straight points for ISU extended the margin to 13 with 2:49 to go. The lead would swell to 15 in the final 90 seconds before Newkirk and freshman Nick Robinson combined to go 7-of-9 from the free throw line and junior Michael Booth hit a three with nine seconds remaining to set the final score.
The Hawks fell behind early, trailing 17-6 with 11:04 to go in the half on a three-pointer by Deontae Hawkins. Brown and Kimble then combined for five in a row, but a 7-0 run extended the Redbirds' advantage to 24-11 at the 8:51 mark. Four consecutive free throws from Newkirk and Robinson cut the lead to 28-20 with five minutes left in the half, but Illinois State used an 8-3 run over the next three minutes to push the lead to 36-23 with 1:49 to play. The Redbirds would take their biggest lead of the half on a three-quarter-court buzzer beater by Lee.
Saint Joseph's shot just 36 percent from the floor in the first half and turned the ball over 12 times. The Hawks recovered in the second, shooting 46.7 percent on 14-of-30 from the floor and turning it over only twice.
"The 12 turnovers in the first half was not good basketball," head coach Phil Martelli said. "And to end up the game with 55 shots – we need to take 60 shots. I’m really disappointed in the first half."
Lee led all scorers with 24 points, while Hawkins added 21 points and eight rebounds. The pair combined to shoot 7-of-11 on the day from three-point range.
"They just have a nice way of playing through Lee," Martelli said. "This was an Atlantic 10 setting, with older guys, big bodies, and good guard play.
"We failed this exam," Martelli said. "We get another chance to take exams tomorrow and then get back to practice on Tuesday. I was just really disappointed with our skill level in the first half."
After wrapping up final exams this week, Saint Joseph's returns to the floor on Thursday night. The Hawks will host Lafayette at Hagan Arena in the second half of a doubleheader; the Hawk women will meet Hofstra at 5:00 p.m., while the men's game is tentatively set for 7:00 p.m. The game will air on 610 AM and will be streamed on the Atlantic 10 Network.