With two teams entering action on three-game losing skids and still trying to find footing midway through the year, it was one of those games - especially in the Big 5 - where, quite simply, someone had to win.
And in a game that featured lengthy runs on both sides, Saint Joseph’s ended up being that team, holding off the University of Pennsylvania, 78-71, at the Palestra Saturday night.
St. Joe's, the official home team on the ticket at the Palestra, led by as many as 15 in the first half before a 12-1 Quakers run led to a four-point Hawks lead, 35-31, at the break.
Penn got a hold of the lead, 36-35, with an early second half spurt but the Hawks, led by Lamarr Kimble’s 23 points (13 in the second half), were able to make more plays and pick up their first win in two weeks.
The loss was the Quakers’ fourth straight. They’ve yet to win in 2017.
Joining Kimble in double figures for the Hawks were Charlie Brown (career-high 19 points), James Demery (15) and Chris Clover (10).
Penn was paced by Matt Howard’s 19 points. Freshman Ryan Betley had 15, including a couple key threes.
Betley’s corner triple got the Quakers within four, 66-62, with 2:44 left.
But the Hawks scored the next four to seize control.
In a close second half looking for a turning point, perhaps a whistle was the moment the game turned.
Late in the shot clock, with the Hawks clinging to a six-point lead, Kimble rose up from deep and was fouled by Jackson Donahue of Penn. All Quakers coach Steve Donahue could do was walk quietly to the other end of his bench in disgust. Kimble made 2 of 3 to push the St. Joe's lead to 70-62 with a little more than a minute to go.
A stop, which Penn would have had if Kimble wasn’t fouled, and the Quakers would have had a chance to cut it to a two-possession game with a manageable clock.
What it means
St. Joe’s, now 51-35 all-time against Penn, needed a confidence booster as it turns back to the crowded Atlantic 10.
Penn is still trying to find the right rotations to win games.
Inside the box score
Penn took 18 shots from beyond the arc in the first half. The Quakers made four of them. They made four on 14 threes in the second half.
Off turnovers, Penn outscored St. Joe’s, 17-4.
The Hawks won the battle in the paint, 36-18.
Penn had 32 fouls as a team and had two players (Tyler Hamilton and Betley) foul out.
Kimble, coming off a nine turnover game, went 9-11 from the free-throw line and had five assists against two turnovers.
St. Joe’s gets back into A-10 play Tuesday at St. Bonaventure before hosting La Salle next Saturday on City Ave.
Penn plays at La Salle Wednesday before a tough Ivy League road weekend the following weekend at Harvard and Dartmouth to kick off February.
Not even a five-day break in the schedule could save the Flyers from themselves.
Some costly penalties, even costlier mistakes, added up to their fifth loss in six games Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center as the New Jersey Devils torched them, 4-1.
The Devils scored two goals in the final four minutes of the second period to turn a tie game into a 3-1 lead.
Michal Neuvirth started the game but was relieved by Steve Mason to start the third period.
This was the first of a back-to-back games. The Flyers came into play 7-4-0 in the first games of such this season. They now have 50 points with a record of 22-19-6.
They went into the break getting burned 5-0 by Washington.
Flyers allowed the first tally for the ninth time in 10 games as Pavel Zacha scored off a juicy rebound in the slot off the backhand for an early 1-0 Devils lead.
Kyle Palmieri scored the go-ahead goal in the second period off a 5-on-3 power play after a horrendous clipping call on Radko Gudas from referee Dan O’Halloran (see video), followed by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Wayne Simmonds for arguing the call. The entire game changed after that call.
Neuvirth was making his first start since Jan. 14 in Boston when he gave up five goals.
Couple chances on the first one for the Flyers and Travis Konecny ripped it off the crossbar. He made good on the next power play, jamming the puck under Keith Kinkaid to tie the game at 1-1 just after the PP ended. Overall, the first unit wasn’t very good in this game and the second unit had the goal. Officially, the power play went 0 for 6.
After yielding five goals over the previous four games, the PK units settled down and killed three straight before the Devils scored off a 5-on-3 power play, then got another power play goal in the third period as well. Devils were 2 for 7.
Gudas went hard into the back boards after a takedown from Miles Wood in the first period but seemed OK.
Wayne Simmonds improved to 2-0-1 after a bout with Wood (see video).
This was Game 47 – the first time all season the Flyers have had an entirely healthy lineup. Defensemen Brandon Manning and Nick Schultz (both healthy); forward Dale Weise (healthy).
This is the 12th set of back-to-back games for the Flyers. They face the Islanders on Sunday night in Brooklyn. They will play 18 sets this season.