TOWSON, Md. - Phil Martelli has changed his stance a bit when it comes to discussing St. Joseph's forward Ahmad Nivins.
"I said at the beginning of the year that if at the end of the year Ahmad is in the conversation for Atlantic Ten player of the year, then we have a chance to be a good team," the Hawks coach said last night after a lopsided 85-64 win over Towson.
"And now I've reduced it to each game, to be honest with you," Martelli said. "If he's not the best player on the floor each night out, then we're really going to struggle. And that's a burden on him."
The senior dominated the action last night with 25 points, shooting 9 for 12 from the field.
The nonconference game at Towson Center Arena was the first meeting between the two schools.
St. Joseph's made it back to .500 at 4-4.
The Hawks led by 38-31 at the half. After halftime, their lead grew to as much as 25 points at 76-51 with 5 minutes, 45 seconds left in the game.
St. Joe's overwhelmed the Tigers (4-5) on the boards with a 40-22 rebounding advantage, including a 17-8 edge on the offensive end.
"That's the lowest rebounding effort a team of mine has done here," said Towson coach Pat Kennedy, who has been with the Tigers for five seasons. "This is the first of our nine games this year where we totally fell apart."
Junior guard Darrin Govens scored 22 points for the Hawks, while Tasheed Carr added 11. Garrett Williamson grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
Junior Hairston had a team-high 16 points for Towson.
St. Joseph's, which has had difficulty scoring to date, made 51.7 percent of its shots from the field.
Martelli had several concerns coming into last night's contest after a 69-58 loss to visiting Creighton on Saturday. There is also the matter of the Hawks' next game, the annual Big Five showdown vs. No. 15 Villanova tomorrow night on the Main Line.
"Coming in, the concerns were, 'When were we going to get a chip on our shoulder, this team,' " Martelli said. "We didn't have enough pain. The older guys talked about [starting to play] good basketball.
"[Towson's] zone was a concern because the numbers are the numbers - we're a 26 percent three-point shooting team. So surround Ahmad and dare somebody else to make a play."
The Hawks took the dare, particularly Govens, who connected on 4 of 10 three-point attempts.