GAME NOTES: The fourth-seeded Saint Joseph's Hawks and the fifth-seeded St. John's Red Storm square off in first-round action of the 2013 National Invitation Tournament at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
The winner will advance to the second round to take on either Virginia or Norfolk State.
After suffering through a disappointing 13-19 record during the 2011-12 campaign, St. John's saw improvement this season, going 16-15 overall and 8-10 in the ultra-tough Big East. However, the Red Storm faltered hard down the stretch with losses in their last five games, including a 66-53 setback at the hands of Villanova in the second round of the Big East Conference Tournament.
Officially, St. John's owns a 40-26 record in the NIT, and has won five titles -- a sixth crown in 2003 was vacated by the NCAA.
Saint Joseph's is participating in the postseason for the 11th time in 18 seasons under head coach Phil Martelli after going 18-13 overall and 8-8 in an Atlantic 10 Conference that sent five teams to the NCAA Tournament. The Hawks began the A-10 Tournament with a thrilling 58-57 win over Xavier before bowing to VCU in the quarterfinals, 82-79.
Saint Joseph's is 16-15 all-time in the NIT, and lost to visiting Northern Iowa in the first round of last year's event.
St. John's has a firm handle on the all-time series with Saint Joseph's, 43-13, but this is the first meeting since 1980.
The Red Storm were bounced from the Big East Tournament with a whimper, shooting a mere 35 percent from the field while committing 17 turnovers in the 13-point loss to another Philly-area school in Villanova. Phil Greene IV netted 16 points in the losing effort, but did so on a lackluster 7-of-19 showing from the field, while JaKarr Sampson (13 points, nine rebounds) had a similarly poor shooting night (5-of-18). Despite outshooting its opponents from the field this season, 41.6 percent to 39.8 ppg, St. John's still nets fewer points (65.3 ppg) than it allows (66.3 ppg). The team's struggles down the stretch can be attributed to the loss of D'Angleo Harrison (17.8 ppg), who was suspended earlier this month for the remainder of the season. In his absence, Sampson (14.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg) acts as the club's leading scorer, with Greene IV (9.8 ppg) also stepping up his game.
After falling behind VCU by 17 points with under nine minutes left in its latest game, Saint Joseph's battled back to make the game close late but could never take the lead. After shooting less than 37 percent from the field in the first half, the team improved to a lofty 60.7 percent in the second stanza, and Carl Jones (29 points) and Langston Galloway (25 points) both had outstanding shooting nights, combining to go 8-of-12 from 3-point range. Halil Kanacevic tallied 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the setback. The Hawks put forth a balanced attack on their way to 67.4 ppg, with Jones leading the way with his 14.5 ppg. Galloway is hot on his heels with 13.7 ppg and is deadly from beyond the arc, shooting 76-of-195 (.390). Ronald Roberts (11.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.0 bpg) and C.J. Aiken (10.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.7 bpg) bring stability to the frontcourt, as does Kanacevic, who stuffs the stat sheets with 8.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.6 bpg and 0.9 spg.
The loss of Harrison has clearly taken a toll on St. John's, as it has yet to win without its star sophomore, and don't expect much to change with the Red Storm blowing into City of Brotherly Love to square off against a tough Saint Joseph's squad.
Game Date and Time