Funk scores 22 as Saint Joseph’s posts 85-73 win over Massachusetts

Courtesy of SJUHawks.com

Taylor Funk scored a game-high 22 points to lead four Hawks in double figures as Saint Joseph’s defeated Massachusetts, 85-73, in Atlantic 10 action at Hagan Arena. The win snaps a five-game losing streak for Saint Joseph’s (10-14; 5-7 A-10).

Funk shot 6-for-12 from the field and made four three-pointers while James Demery scored 18 points as did Chris Clover off the bench. Shavar Newkirk had 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Hawks, who notched their first win since January 20. Nick Robinson made the start and had nine points and tied his career-high with eight rebounds.

Massachusetts (11-14; 4-8), which converted 14-of-25 three-pointers in the game, was led by Luwane Pipkins and Carl Pierre with 21 points apiece. C.J. Anderson added 14 points for the Minutemen.

There were 12 ties in the game until the Hawks snapped a 61-61 score with an 8-2 run, helped by a three from Clover, to take a 69-63 lead with 9:25 to play. Back-to-back layups by Newkirk and Demery pushed the Hawks’ lead to 74-66 and then Newkirk hit a pair of free throws to give SJU its first double-digit lead of the game, 78-68 with over five minutes to play.

Pipkins connected on his third three-pointer of the game at 3:51 to cut UMass’ deficit to 80-73, but that would be the visitors’ last basket of the game.

UMass came out firing in the first half, hitting five of its first six three-point attempts to stake a 17-8 lead. The Hawks then answered with a 13-2 run, ending in six straight points from Funk to go up, 21-19. The teams exchanged leads from that point on and with UMass holding a 36-31 lead, Newkirk hit a three and Demery converted a three-point play to help the Hawks regain the edge, 37-36. The Minutemen, who shot 10-for-13 from three-point range in the half, regained the lead, 41-37, before SJU closed out the half with baskets by Newkirk and Clover to knot the score at halftime, 41-41.

“It wasn’t a monkey on our back, it was a whole building. We had to lift that. What we’ve talked about for two days is that enough is enough,” said head coach Phil Martelli on the losing streak. “We needed guys to make a small play, so they could get themselves going and then hopefully get us going. So we had some small plays. We had charges, we had offensive rebounds, we made some extra passes. And it’s late, but there’s more. We can play better.”

Martelli changed up the starting lineup, inserting Robinson and Anthony Longpré for Clover and Pierfrancesco Oliva. “Was the losing streak because of Checco (Oliva) and Chris starting? No. But I had to do something. I had to change the way we practiced. I had to watch one more tape . . . But they can be excited about coming in on Monday.”

The Hawks go back on the road on Wednesday for their second meeting of the year against Fordham.

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