Saint Joseph's erased a six-point deficit with 3:46 remaining in regulation before making the plays needed to beat Notre Dame, 79-70. "That was a November game?" wondered Hawks coach Phil Martelli. "Sure seemed like more than that." All five Saint Joseph's starters played at least 41 minutes. And all five scored double figures, led by a 21-point, 16-rebound effort from Ronald Roberts, who also scored his team's first seven points in overtime. The game ended at 11:59 p.m. Saint Joseph's advanced with a trio of front-line contributors who wore down Notre Dame en route to 38 points in the paint and 21 second-chance points. "They have a few more men than us," said Irish coach Mike Brey. "That's why they won." The Hawks also won by digging in and defending and holding the Irish scoreless the final 4:01 of regulation. "We had great looks," said junior guard Eric Atkins. "We just couldn't knock them down." Or get many good ones when the game was there for the taking. "They did a great job defending us," Brey said. "What an unbelievable November game. They got offensive rebounds that really hurt us." Notre Dame, ranked No. 20 this week, features five starters off last season's team and believes it can make a run at a Big East regular-season championship for the first time in school history. Saint Joseph's, which has designs of getting back to the NCAA tournament this season, has four starters off last year's squad. Saint Joseph's advances to meet Florida State, which ran away from Brigham Young, 88-70, in Friday's first semifinal, for Saturday's championship. Jack Cooley delivered his 15th career double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out with 1:26 left in overtime. Atkins added his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 assists. But it was the defense of Hawks guard Langston Galloway on Irish guard Jerian Grant that really gave the Irish fits, especially with the game there for the taking. Grant finished 4-of-17 from the floor. "I wouldn't trade Langston for anybody," Martelli said. Each team had a chance to win it with a possession and rebound late in regulation but couldn't convert. When it came time to make the plays needed to win, it was Saint Joseph's that delivered with a drive, a jumper, a second-chance shot, a free throw. Notre Dame hit just two of its eight shots in overtime. "To come back against that veteran group and the way they shoot it," Martelli said. "I'm happy that we advanced our game. "We're better than we were Monday." Saint Joseph's opened the season Monday with a 61-35 victory over Yale. The Irish scored the game's first eight points before sputtering on offense, which affected their defense. Saint Joseph's turned the first half into a dunk-fest with five. That allowed the Hawks to flip the early deficit to lead twice by as many as five. Saint Joseph's shot 51.9 percent in the first half. Notre Dame shot 40 percent but stayed close by hitting seven of 13 attempts from 3. NOTES: Saint Joseph's played without guard Carl Jones, its leading scorer last season who was serving the third game of a three-game suspension for a violation of university community standards. ... Friday's game started a stretch of five of the next seven games away from home for the Hawks. ... Saturday will cap an Irish run of four games in eight days to start the season. ... Notre Dame was picked in preseason to finish third in the Big East, with one first-place vote. Saint Joseph's was picked to win the Atlantic 10, which will hold its postseason tournament at Barclays Center. ... Friday was the first time Notre Dame and Saint Joseph's had met since a 68-65 Irish victory on Dec. 29, 1992 in the Sugar Bowl Tournament. ... Areas of Brooklyn are still without power two weeks after Super Storm Sandy.
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