Saint Joseph’s 68, Holy Cross 60

Preview | Box Score | Recap

PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Saint Joseph’s still has a chance to outdo last year’s team in one area—number of postseason victories.

Dwayne Lee and Pat Carroll each scored 15 points, and Chet Stachitas added 13 to lead Saint Joseph’s to a 68-60 win over Holy Cross in the second round of the NIT Monday night.

“Nobody thought we’d make it back to the Elite Eight,” said Dwayne Jones, smiling. “It is the NIT, but we’ve put a pretty good run together. I think we’re able to carve our own identity in the very big shadow of last year.”

The Hawks (22-11) will play in the quarterfinals Wednesday night at Texas A&M (21-9).

Yes, it’s the NIT and not the NCAA tournament, but last year’s top-seeded Hawks won three NCAA games before losing to a Big 12 team (Oklahoma State) in the regional semifinal

This year, after three postseason wins, another Big 12 team is in the way.

“So maybe on Wednesday we’ll do one better than the team last year and get that fourth win in the postseason,” Stachitas said.

The Hawks already beat Hofstra and Buffalo before holding off the fiesty Crusaders.

Three times in the second half, Holy Cross (25-7) pulled within one. Each time, the Hawks held off the Crusaders, including a leaning 3-pointer by Carroll over a couple of defenders.

Jones added a couple of nice plays in the final minutes, once converting a three-point play with a tough shot under the basket for a 51-43 lead. Then Stachitas gave Jones a nifty bounce pass for a thunderous baseline dunk and a 60-53 lead.

The Hawks survived an 11-minute stretch early in the second half without a field goal. Carroll hit a 3-pointer to open the second half, then made the Hawks next basket on another 3 with 8:47 left.

The drought allowed the Crusaders to chip away, but Saint Joseph’s did its damage from the line. The Hawks went 22-for-31 from the free throw line and Lee made 13 of 14 attempts.

John Hurley led the Crusaders with 14 points and Kevin Hamilton added 12. Keith Simmons and Greg Kinsey each scored 10.

“We had chances, but we rushed some shots and kind of lost our patience,” Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard said. “

Carroll—the Atlantic 10’s co-player of the year—got a rousing standing ovation when he left his final home game with about 5 seconds left. Carroll gave John Bryant, his other senior teammate, a big hug on the bench and the crowd stuck around after the game to sing the fight song.

“No one has worked at the game of basketball like Pat,” coach Phil Martelli said.

With Gov. Ed Rendell watching from the stands, the crowd booed when it was announced the quarterfinals would be played in Texas, but the team came back out of the locker room and waved to the fans and high-fived the student section.

While the NIT might not create much excitement in some cities, Saint Joe’s sold-out crowd was rocking, making it seem like a late-December game against a city rival instead of a consolation tournament. When Stachitas buried a 3-pointer for a 15-4 lead, the fans erupted as the Hawk mascot hit the court to flap his wings.

The Hawks played their first three NIT games at home, but have to hit the road early Tuesday to get to Texas.

“It would have been hard for any team to win in this building with the atmosphere the way it was,” Martelli said. “The label of the ‘year after,’ they don’t have to have that now. They have had significant postseason success.”

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Holy Cross
J. Hurley J. Hurley
7-12,  14 Pts
7 Rebs, 0 Assists
 St. Joseph's
P. Carroll P. Carroll
6-14,  15 Pts
7 Rebs, 4 Assists

Team Stat Leaders