In a season which has seen a lot of mistakes on Hawk Hill, the biggest one on Saturday night wasn't made by a player or coach. Somehow, the first minute and four seconds of the game between Saint Joseph's and Fordham was played with a women's sized basketball.
It is something that the Hawks can look back at and laugh now as Saint Joseph's (16-11, 7-7 Atlantic 10 overcame a slow start to defeat Fordham (6-23, 2-12 A-10) 82-56 at Hagan Arena.
It was a subdued atmosphere at Hagan Arena on Saturday night and the early portion of the game matched it.
The first 17 shots from the field were missed as both teams experienced major struggles shooting the basketball. The Hawks were able to pull away to a 10-0 lead as Carl Jones knocked down two three-pointers.
It took nearly seven minutes before Fordham would register their first points of the game, as Mandell Thomas finally nailed a jumper to put the Rams on the board.
Ironically, the Rams would make their next two shots from the field as well to cut the Hawks lead to 10-6 with 11:39 left in the first half.
However, that was the closest the Rams would get the rest of the game as Jones continued his assault from long range as his third three-pointer of the half helped ignite a 14-3 run to give Saint Joseph's a 24-9 edge with 8:23 to play in the opening half.
In fact, Fordham failed to close to within single digits the rest of the game as the Hawks were in total control of proceedings.
Fordham made a couple of six and seven point runs in the second half, but Saint Joseph's was always quick to counter with a run of their own, and the Hawks led by at least 14 points during the entirety of the second half.
The Hawks were a bit short-handed as junior forward C.J. Aiken missed the game with nagging wrist and back injuries which he re-aggravated early in the game on Wednesday night against Saint Louis. Daryus Quarles got his first start of the season in place of Aiken and knocked down two field goals in the second half to account for his five points in 16 minutes of action.
Isaiah Miles also saw the court for the first time since the game against Penn on January 19th. Miles knocked down a three-pointer and set a great screen to open up room for Jones' fifth three-pointer of the game. One drawback to Miles' play though was the fact that he committed three fouls in just seven minutes of action.
Hawks coach Phil Martelli emptied his entire bench late on, as Taylor Trevisan knocked down a three-pointer while walk-ons Eric Kindler and Chris Coyne hit shots late to account for the final points of the affair with Kindler scoring his first career points as a member of the Hawks.
Jones led the Hawks with 24 points while Kanacevic added 12 points and 9 rebounds and Ronald Roberts also finished as a double figure scorer with 10 points.
Thomas led Fordham, who shot just 33 percent from the field for the game, with 15 points while Ryan Canty netted a double-double as he scored 14 points while grabbing 15 rebounds in a rugged 23 minutes of action.
Perhaps the most interesting things to transpire from the game didn't occur until after the final buzzer sounded.
In his post-game press conference, Martelli was combative with the media, seemingly blaming the members of the press for covering the team in a negative tone.
When asked about the potential impact of the final games of the season on the Hawks standing in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, Martelli snapped back saying, “I think its the most overblown thing that I've read, this thing that St. Joe's may not make the A-10 Tournament, I think its been overdone, but the negative tone has been silly I think.”
Martelli then suggested that perhaps the media hyped up this Saint Joseph's team to be better than they actually are, saying that "but I go back to my thing, better is better, not older is better," alluding to the fact that the Hawks brought back all of their key contributors back from last season's 20 win team.
"Our record was the exact same at this day last year," Martelli told the assembled media after the Hawks 26-point win over Fordham. While it is true that the Hawks were 16-11 after 27 games last season, Saint Joseph's was a game better in conference play, with a record of 8-6 going into the final two games of last season's A-10 slate.
Martelli also explained that Miles has not seen action over the last several weeks because "his practices from about December 15th to now have not been adequate." Miles did not make the trip on Wednesday to Saint Louis because one of his professors suggested he stay behind to help him achieve the highest possible grade on an upcoming test.
Martelli has often talked about the level of performance and effort in practice coinciding with the chances of his bench players getting minutes and this seems to have been the main reason why Miles has been buried on the bench throughout the second half of the season.
With the win, Saint Joseph's moved into a three-way tie for eighth place in the Atlantic 10 with two games to play. The Hawks are next in action on Wednesday for their final home game against the high-effort Rhode Island Rams with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.