ALBANY, N.Y. - St. Joseph's has struggled in tight games all season, but the Hawks managed to pull out a win in one last night.
Rob Ferguson hit an open three-pointer with 1 minute, 24 seconds remaining, and Pat Calathes sealed the win with a steal and dunk to give the Hawks a 74-68 victory over Siena at the Times Union Center.
St. Joe's (6-4) led for most of the game but trailed, 68-66, with less than two minutes to go. Ferguson's three-pointer gave the Hawks the lead for good.
"I've never been that wide open all season," he said.
Ahmad Nivins hit a pair free throws with 26 seconds remaining, and as Siena tried to get in position for a tying three-pointer, Calathes stepped in front of a pass and took the ball the length of the floor.
"We made a lot of small plays to get out of here with the win," Hawks coach Phil Martelli said, "and we're not giving it back."
Entering the game, St. Joseph's was 0-4 in games decided by six or fewer points and lost twice in overtime. It was the team's first win against a team in the top 150 in the RPI (Siena was 27th).
"It was a good win," Nivins said. "It was good experience [to win a close game], especially since we're about to start conference play."
Things didn't start well for Nivins. The junior center was pulled from the game with 11 minutes left in the first half after giving up consecutive layups to seldom-used freshman Ryan Rossiter.
"No disrespect, but I can't be giving up two straight baskets to a freshman," Nivins said.
Nivins used his size and scored 13 of his game-high 20 points in the second half. He also hit six of his final seven free throws.
St. Joe's had a substantial size advantage even before Siena's leading rebounder, Reading Central Catholic's Alex Franklin, was unable to play because of a back injury - "without Franklin, they're an entirely different team," Martelli said.
The Hawks used their size to rise up for three-pointers, especially with the 6-foot-10 Calathes (4 for 7) and 6-8 Ferguson (4 for 4). The Hawks shot 50 percent from behind the arc.
It was the three-point shooting that, in the end, lifted St. Joseph's to its first win in a close game.
"These are the games that we've lost," Martelli said. "Today, we can at least get on the bus and say we finished the job."