Saint Joseph’s closed out 2012 with a 63-49 win over City 6 rival Drexel at the Daskalaskis Athletic Center on the campus of Drexel University on Monday afternoon.
C.J. Aiken was impressive for the second straight game on both ends of the floor. Aiken scored 19 points and had a perfect shooting night (6-of-6 from the field, 2-of-2 from three-point range, 5-of-5 from the free-throw line) and also came up big on defense as he was credited with swatting six shots away during the contest.
The Hawks opened up ice cold from the field, as Drexel’s defense seemed to stymie the Saint Joseph’s attack with the Dragons leading 18-10 with 8:32 left in the 1st half. However, the Hawks went on an 13-0 run over the final seven minutes and fifteen seconds of the half to take a 23-18 lead into the locker room.
The Hawks continued the spurt into the second half, with the run eventually ballooning to 24-2 while the Hawks lead expanded to 34-20 with 15:30 left after an emphatic offensive rebound by Ronald Roberts resulted in Roberts drawing a foul and canning two free throws.
Saint Joseph’s (7-4) was the more aggressive team, especially in the second half, as they outscored Drexel (4-8) by a 15-2 margin from the free throw line over the course of the game.
Drexel was able to get back within striking distance, mainly through their ability to grab offensive rebounds and score on put-back attempts. The Dragons were able to close the deficit down to 5 with 6:55 remaining.
However, the Hawks Chris Wilson quickly put the Hawks back up by double-digits as he scored five consecutive points with a three-pointer and then a nice lay-up off of a set-up from Langston Galloway.
It would be Aiken that would appropriately put the cap on this game with an athletic reverse lay-up while being fouled with three minutes to play. Aiken hit the free throw to complete the traditional three-point play, putting the Hawks up 56-43. Drexel would never get the deficit back down to single digits again as the Hawks hit on their final five attempts from the charity stripe to seal the victory.
Besides Aiken’s spectacular performance, the Hawks were paced by Langston Galloway, who netted 13 points, Carl Jones who scored 11, and Wilson who put in 9 points along with 8 rebounds and 5 assists in the victory.
The Hawks welcomed Halil Kanacevic back from his two-game suspension but he did not get the starting nod as Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli stuck with the same starting five he used in the victory against Iona on Friday. Kanacevic hit one shot from the field and finished with 2 points and 2 rebounds in an underwhelming 27 minutes of action.
Drexel’s bench was a bit shorter due to the injury of Dartaye Ruffin, whose inside presence was missed by the Dragons. Damion Lee led the Dragons with 21 points but Drexel’s sharpshooter also fouled out in the contest. Guard Frantz Massenat was also in foul trouble for the Dragons for much of the contest as the CAA Pre-Season Player of the Year was held to just 5 points and 4 assists in 26 minutes of action.
The Saint Joseph’s victory allowed the Hawks to continue their mastery over Drexel as they extended their advantage in the all-time series between the two schools to 44-9.
Saint Joseph’s has one final tune-up before conference play begins next week as they make a trip to Maryland to take on Morgan State on Saturday afternoon from Baltimore, MD with tip-off scheduled for 4:00 p.m.