Hawks soar over St. Bonaventure

February 13, 2008 7:18:36 PM PST
The Hawks break the huddle with a "1-2-3 Championship!" that shows how much they want an A-10 title. But coach Phil Martelli was left to wonder how a Saint Joseph's team that wants a title, and to reach the NCAA tournament, could instead come out so flat for a half against woeful St. Bonaventure on Wednesday night.

"If that's what they want, then I've got to have more," Martelli said.

Once immersed in the game, the Hawks blew away the Bonnies. Ahmad Nivins scored 18 points and Pat Calathes had 15 to lead Saint Joseph's to an 81-56 win.

"We want to be champs. That's what it's all about," Nivins said. "That's what we work for."

Rob Ferguson added 12 points to help the Hawks (16-7, 7-3 Atlantic 10) snap a two-game losing streak and beat the Bonnies for the 13th straight time. St. Bonaventure (7-16, 1-8) hasn't defeated Saint Joseph's since 2000 and dropped to 0-12 on the road this season.

After a pair of disappointing losses last week at Duquesne and Xavier hindered their NCAA tournament hopes, the Hawks used 12-for-25 3-point shooting to bounce back to form.

"I just want them to want more," Martelli said. "I know they want more, but it was not indicative in body language, it's not indicative in approach on the floor. It's not like they're waiting for someone else to do it. Numb would be the way I would describe the way we played the first half."

The Hawks got going in the second half. Ferguson, Darrin Govens and Tasheed Carr each sank 3-pointers during an 11-0 run that started the half and broke the game open. The Hawks cruised from there, shooting 58 percent from the field - 61 overall in the second half.

Zarryon Fereti scored 15 points for the Bonnies.

The Hawks are Philadelphia's best hope to send a team to the NCAA tournament. Postseason regulars like Penn and Villanova have slumped this season, potentially making this tournament the first one since 1977 without a Philadelphia-area team.

Saint Joseph's likely needs to at least split games against Rhode Island and No. 12 Xavier and make a deep run in the A-10 tourney to have a shot at an at-large bid. Of course, winning the conference tournament would assure them of an automatic berth into the NCAA field.

"I don't speak one thing about what could be," Martelli said.

Nivins went over the 1,000-point mark in the first half, joining Ferguson and Calathes as Hawks who have reached that career milestone.

"It's a wonderful feeling, but it feels even better to be on a winning team and a team that's getting better," Nivins said.

Fereti hit three 3s and scored 11 points to help the Bonnies keep close in the first half. Fereti, however, landed awkwardly on a Hawks player's foot and appeared to hurt his left ankle. He needed assistance to the bench and returned in the second half.

The game was tied until Carr hit a 3 and Calathes made one after the ball hit the rim, popped high in the air and plopped through the net at the buzzer to give St. Joseph's a 41-36 halftime lead. It took those two baskets to make Martelli feel like the game was finally turning around.

Some Hawks said fatigue was a factor after the Hawks played an NBA-like schedule last week with three games away from Alumni Fieldhouse, including a draining 76-72 loss at Xavier.

Calathes said he hoped the travel schedule would toughen them up for a postseason run.

"If we're going to get a bid to the NCAA tournament, those are the things we have to work through," he said.