The massive snowstorm, the semester break, the Eagles game and a six-game losing streak conspired to rob St. Joseph's Hagan Arena of its usual packed house and raucous atmosphere last night.
So the Hawks had to find a way to energize themselves against Lehigh. It took a while, but they rubbed out a seven-point second-half deficit with a 20-2 run to snap their longest losing streak in 11 years with a 77-66 victory.
The key figure during the second-half surge was sophomore guard Chris Prescott, who began the comeback with a basket followed by a rebound and sharp outlet pass to Garrett Williamson for a flying dunk. Prescott scored two more baskets, and in a blink St. Joe's went from a 52-45 deficit to a 65-54 advantage.
Darrin Govens led the Hawks with 15 points.
Both teams are 4-6.
Hawks coach Phil Martelli announced beforehand that junior Idris Hilliard was suspended from the game because of a failure to comply with university and team academic standards. Hilliard remains academically eligible and is permitted to practice with the team. His status for the Dec. 29 game at Siena remains to be determined. The 6-foot-7 Hilliard is averaging 10.9 points and 5.7 rebounds a game.
Hilliard's loss created a chance for Carl Baptiste to get more playing time, and the brawny 6-8 freshman made the most of it. Baptiste hadn't played more than 17 minutes or scored more than five points until last night, when he came off the bench and helped shake St. Joe's out of an early malaise.
Lehigh began the game by scoring the first 10 points as Zahir Carrington seemed intent on making his homecoming a success. The 6-7 forward from Masterman got the Mountain Hawks going with some productive work in the lane, and it wasn't until Baptiste entered the game when St. Joe's began to find some rhythm on offense.
Baptiste, who scored all 13 of his points in the first half, banked a shot off the glass and quickly followed with a baseline jumper to start the Hawks off on a 26-7 tear en route to a seven-point lead. Baptiste connected on all six of his shots during the first 20 minutes, when he pulled down five rebounds.
But Lehigh fought back to within 40-38 at the break, doing so while dominating the boards, 22-14.
Last night's was the first game for St. Joe's since a Dec. 12 blowout loss at Minnesota. The Hawks' six-game losing streak was their longest since they dropped nine straight in 1998-99.