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Taylor Funk, Charlie Brown lead St. Joe’s to blowout win over Wake Forest in Myrtle Beach Invitational opener

The Hawks broke a halftime tie to demolish the ACC school in the first round of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.

Taylor Funk had a breakout performance on Thursday.
Taylor Funk had a breakout performance on Thursday.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

CONWAY, S.C. —Phil Martelli joked that Taylor Funk shot well in St. Joe's 89-69 blowout of Wake Forest because Funk's grandmother brought him his jump shot.

Martelli wasn't joking when he said Funk, the sophomore from Lancaster, almost lost his starting job.

"He hadn't hit a shot since June, I'm serious,'' Martelli said of Funk. "He was in danger of losing his spot. Then his mother came to our game and he shot well. I told him his mother must have brought his jumper for him. And then his grandmother was here today, so I guess she brought it.''

Funk hit six three-pointers and scored 20 points and Charlie Brown Jr. had his third straight 20-point game with 26 as the Hawks (3-0) won the opener of the Myrtle Beach Invitational at the HTC Center on the campus of Coastal Carolina University on Thursday.

St. Joe's will play Central Florida on Friday afternoon. The Knights advanced after beating Cal State Fullerton 68-52.

Funk had several family members at Thursday's game. Myrtle Beach has been a second home for him and his family since as long as he can remember.

"Until I got to college I've spent at least four weeks a year there every year,'' Funk said. "I can't remember not going there. So when I heard we were playing in Myrtle Beach I was pretty excited.''

The HTC Center is about a half hour or so from the beaches, but Funk was in the kind of groove Thursday that made him feel as if he was sitting in the sand.

"When you get in that zone, the rim is as big as the ocean," Funk said.

Funk, who scored 11.8 points per game as a freshman and was averaging an even eight through two games this season, scored 14 of the Hawks' first 19 points. He then reentered the game and hit another three-pointer with 33 seconds left in the half.

"I don't think I ever lost my jump shot,'' Funk said. "It's not something that just goes away. I don't want to say that I'm not a [good] practice player, but I just shoot better in games. I mean I'm not the most athletic guy on the team. I don't jump the highest. I'm not the best defender. I have to shoot. I get in trouble with the coaches when I don't shoot. And that's a good thing."

Wake Forest gave the Hawks trouble in the first half, which ended in a 46-46 tie after 13 lead changes and five ties.

Two runs early in the second half broke the game open and turned it into a St. Joe's rout.

Brown scored the first six points of the half on two jumpers and a fastbreak lay-up to make it 52-46, and Funk hit his his sixth three-pointer of the game to make it 55-46.

"I told them at halftime to rebound and play defense,'' Martelli said with a smile. "We dialed in in the second half."

Wake Forest didn't score until the 16:28 mark of the half. The Demon Deacons' first six possessions of the half went: miss, miss, turnover, blocked shot, turnover, miss.

Olivier Sarr then hit a three to bring Wake within six and Brandon Childress scored on a drive to make it 55-51. The Hawks then went on an 8-0 run that stretched the lead to double figures and Wake Forest never got it back under 10.

"We can score from a lot of different places on the court,'' Martelli said. "We can be hard to guard.''

There will be a Philadelphia presence in the 2019 Myrtle Beach Invitational: Next year's field was announced Thursday and will be headlined by defending NCAA champion Villanova. Joining Jay Wright's Wildcats in the eight-team field will be Baylor, Memphis, Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, Ohio, Utah and the host school, Coastal Carolina.

Another Philly presence at the tournament: Sharone Wright Jr., a freshman guard for the Demon Deacons is the son of Sharone Wright, the 6th overall pick of the Sixers in the 1994 NBA draft.