Going into the locker room on Wednesday night it was looking like a case of more of the same. Saint Joseph's was trailing 36-27 after a lifeless first half which featured stagnant offensive possessions and at times, matador defense.
The tables were turned in the second half.
Saint Joseph's (14-9, 5-5 Atlantic 10) came out with a full court press in the second half which seemed to spring the Hawks to life while leaving Richmond (14-11, 4-6 A-10) surprised. The Hawks scored the first 15 points after the break and held on for a 61-55 win.
On The Comcast Network broadcast immediately following the game Hawks coach Phil Martelli was asked about the impact of the press in the second half. Surprisingly, Martelli suggested that the use of the full court pressure coming out of the locker room wasn't even his idea.
"That pressure was the suggestion of one of the players," Martelli said, " It was actually Chris Wilson who suggested it, we had a lot more energy in the second half."
Saint Joseph's forced three turnovers during their run while making Richmond look incredibly uncomfortable with the press. Langston Galloway hit a three-pointer to punctuate the run and gave the Hawks a 42-36 advantage with 14:43 left.
It would not be the last major contribution from Galloway, who fought foul trouble throughout the game and only played 30 minutes, a low number for him.
Richmond hung tight throughout the second half and a three-pointer by Kendall Anthony brought the Spiders to within two, 57-55 with 1:24 to play.
The Hawks offense had gone back to looking stagnant on the three prior trips down the floor. This particular possession was no different as Carl Jones missed a contested jumper, but C.J. Aiken corralled a crucial offensive rebound. With just 8 seconds left on the shot clock, Martelli called timeout.
Out of the timeout, Galloway received possession in the corner, he took two dribbles to his left and put up a three-pointer, which he buried to give the Hawks a five point lead with 22 seconds left.
Darien Brothers missed a three-pointer on the other end of the floor and Wilson hit a free throw to complete the scoring and insure the Hawks gained a much-needed victory.
Jones led the Hawks with 17 points in the win, while Ronald Roberts notched his 11th double-double of the season, scoring 16 points while grabbing 10 rebounds. C.J. Aiken was close to a double-double, netting 10 points along with 9 rebounds as well as 4 blocks.
Richmond was led by their talented guard tandem of Kendall Anthony and Cedrick Lindsay, with Anthony scoring 13 points while Lindsay added 12. Richmond was undone by their poor shooting as they were an anemic 32 percent from the field for the game.
Whether Martelli wants to take credit for the adjustment to press during the second half or not, that move was a turning point in the game for Saint Joseph's. The Hawks were able to turn the boos they received heading into the locker room into cheers in relatively short order. Richmond was clearly rattled by the press, as they did not expect to see it considering how infrequently the Hawks use full court pressure.
Saint Joseph's came out with a renewed energy and focus in the second half, an energy and focus that quite frankly, needs to be shown more consistently with only six games remaining in conference play.
The Hawks will try to use tonight's second half performance as a launching pad as they head into their Big Five contest with La Salle on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at The Palestra. The game will be broadcast nationally on the NBC Sports Network.