Saint Joseph’s (9-11; 0-3 Big 5) couldn’t overcome a strong second half by Penn (13-6; 1-3) losing to the Quakers, 67-56, in a Philadelphia Big 5 game at The Palestra.
Shavar Newkirk had 19 points for Saint Joseph’s while Chris Clover and James Demery had 12 apiece. Taylor Funk added 10 points for the Hawks who have lost two in a row.
Penn scored 12 straight points in the second half to break open a tight game. With Saint Joseph’s leading, 37-35, Penn used a 12-0 run over four minutes, ending in a three by Ryan Betley at 12:46 to give the Quakers their biggest lead of the game to that point, 47-37.
Clover ended the scoreless streak for the Hawks with a basket at 12:15. But with the Quakers again leading by 10, 49-39, Newkirk scored six straight to get the Hawks back into it, 49-45 at 8:11. Buckets by Antonio Woods and Max Rothschild after a layup by Demery gave Penn a 55-47 lead with 4:34 to play.
With Penn ahead 59-49, Newkirk and Clover scored four straight to get the Hawks within six, 59-53, at 2:25, but that’s as close as they would come the rest of the way. Darnell Foreman when 4-for-4 from the line in the final 30 seconds to put the game out of reach.
In the first half, the Hawks took the early 17-12 lead, led by Demery’s seven points, but the Quakers countered with a 10-0 run to go up 22-17, as Saint Joseph’s went without a point for six minutes. Pierfrancesco Oliva ended the scoreless streak with a three-pointer at 6:34 to pull the Hawks within 22-20.
Penn maintained the lead and ran it up to 33-25, its biggest of the half as Woods hit a three with 1:39 to play. SJU closed out the half with five straight to cut its deficit at the break to 33-30.
"We struggled this week on offensive. I knew it, I could feel it. Yesterday we did series of offenses instead of just the scouting report. I have to look at it. And I think for the first time on Thursday, I could feel it with the team - they felt sorry for themselves," said SJU coach Phil Martelli. "We put everything we had into Wednesday night (at St. Bonaventure) and I couldn't get their spirit lifted. So I was very aggressive with them in practice yesterday, but it didn't work. We just didn't have any spark. We played 80 minutes of basketball and didn't have anyone play well offensively. And we didn't run good offense. We're not winning games with 56 points or 67 points - we need to get into the low 70's and we weren't good enough."
The Quakers were led by A.J. Brodeur with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Caleb Wood (12), Woods (11) and Betley (10) all contributed double figures.
The Hawks struggled offensively, shooting 30.9 percent from the field and 25 percent (6-for-24) from three-point range, to produce their second lowest point total of the season.
Penn shot 42 percent from the field but committed 15 turnovers in the game.
SJU remains in Philadelphia for the next two games, hosting Saint Louis on Wednesday and visiting La Salle on Saturday, February 3.