WORCESTER, Mass. - Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli espouses a rather basic philosophy when it comes to Justin Crosgile.
It was never more in evidence than last night when Crosgile notched career highs in points (19) and three-pointers (five) as the Hawks beat Holy Cross, 65-54, in a nonconference game.
"At Creighton, Justin was really good, because he practiced really well," Martelli said after the Hawks (4-8) snapped a six-game losing streak. "At BU, he was really bad, because he practiced badly. And now he's practiced well the last couple of days.
"If Justin could give us an older perspective - which sounds funny because he's a sophomore - and score the ball coming into the game, that would be a plus for our team going forward.
"Justin also has to clear everything out of his mind and his heart and concentrate on basketball," Martelli added. "He wasn't ready to play well at BU because he was finishing an academic assignment that was due 2 weeks earlier."
C.J. Aiken contributed 10 points and five blocks for the Hawks while Mike Cavataio (12 points) was the only player to reach double figures for the Crusaders (1-10).
The Hawks almost gave new meaning to the phrase "deep freeze" because they missed their first eight shots and 11 of their first 12.
Yet despite shooting a frigid 35.5 percent (11-for-31) in the first half the Hawks still led, 31-23, at intermission due to a combination of their man-to-man defense and even more Icelandic shooting by the Crusaders (32.1 percent on 9-for-28).
"Every player made a positive contribution . . . even guys who played short minutes, like Todd O'Brien and Carl Baptiste," Martelli said. "But every guy left a play out there that has to be improved on.
"Still, it was a step in the right direction. I think a lot of it had to do with the defensive end of the floor. We had a sound scouting report from [assistant coach] Mark Bass and they followed it for the most part. When they didn't follow it, we let them have it. There has to be attention to detail and we must be razor-sharp."
The Hawks certainly were sharp at both ends of the floor in the second half as they gradually increased their lead.
Crosgile drained consecutive treys to give the Hawks their largest lead - 53-36 with 9:12 to go.
Holy Cross slapped on a fullcourt press in the last 4 minutes, which produced three turnovers and enabled the Crusaders to pull within 62-51 with 1:40 left. But Langston Galloway and Crosgile combined to sink three of four free throws to clinch the victory.
"This team has been easy to coach," Martelli said. "But you feel badly for everybody to go a month without a win. The only way for them to be exact is for us to lean on them and not baby them.
"Misplays can't happen. We're looking at small steps and small improvement."