Jordan Hall and Ejike Obinna were the two best players on the floor, and some nights for this year’s St. Joseph’s basketball team, that’s going to be enough.

Against visiting Penn at Hagan Arena Wednesday night, it was.

Both players posted career highs, with Hall pouring in 33 and Obinna tallying 20, as the Hawks won, 78-71, in a Big 5 matchup.

St. Joe’s (5-4, 1-1 Big 5) used a key 11-4 run to turn a two-point lead into a nine-point lead midway through the second half to pull away from the Quakers. Hall had a hand in every point during that stretch. He made two three-pointers and a layup, and assisted on a Taylor Funk corner triple. Hall had seven assists on the night.

“I just wanted to win,” Hall said. “We just came off the loss from Nova, and I had that chip on my shoulder. We’ve been in this position before, multiple games this year, being up in the second half and having a team come back. We were in the timeout in the huddle talking to each other saying we can’t let up.”

Penn (3-9, 0-3 Big 5) did manage to make it interesting late, cutting the deficit to four with 58 seconds to play, but Hall made a pull-up jumper to calm the home crowd.

Jordan Dingle paced the Quakers with 26 points.

Obinna keeps rolling


The 6-foot-10, 245-pound big man was lethal in the pick-and-roll for St. Joe’s all night, setting high screens for his playmakers and then rolling to the rim, where his size and athleticism were too much for Penn to control at times.

Obinna, who just missed a double-double by finishing with nine rebounds, did make coach Billy Lange unhappy about something on the Hawks’ first possession of the second half. Lange sent Anton Jansson to the scorer’s table to check in less than 20 seconds into the half and subbed Obinna out shortly after a putback gave him his 16 points.

Lange had a few things to say to Obinna as he walked to the bench, where he sat for less than two minutes before coming back in and quickly matching his career high.

“I’m just proud of his development,” Lange said. “In all of the years that I’ve coached, at all the different levels, Ejike Obinna has improved the most from day dot to now more than any player I’ve coached at any level.

“He’s growing in confidence and it just gives us something we can do that we have not had here recently.

“I took him out because he forgot the play. We’re learning. Everything I’m trying to teach these guys is about the uncommon level it takes to be great.”

It wasn’t the last time Lange was visibly frustrated with the graduate student, who has given the Hawks a new element on both ends of the floor.

Wang gets the nod

Penn center Michael Wang got his second start of the season.

While the Quakers deal with injuries, the senior, who missed all of 2019-20 due to injury, is seeing some of his first action at center. Wednesday night offered a major test in Obinna, who has more skills and size than most big men in the Ivy League (and some others, too).

Wang played in 26 games and started nine of them as a freshman in 2018-19. It will be interesting to see how Penn coach Steve Donahue uses him down the line.

Wednesday night he had eight points, four assists, and three rebounds.