POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - With the Christmas holidays just ahead, the St. Joseph's basketball team picked up what coach Phil Martelli called an important victory.

"I'm pleased for the players and the coaches because this is the hardest game of the year," Martelli said after the Hawks dispatched Marist, 75-58, Saturday night at the McCann Arena. "You come off this 10- or 11-day break because of exams. They're kids, they want to get home.

"We really concentrated on starting strong."

The Hawks turned a three-point lead into a 19-point advantage thanks to a 19-3 run that knocked the host Red Foxes on their heels.

St. Joe's did it with good shooting. The Hawks were 15 of 27 from the floor and 7 for 18 from behind the three-point arc in the first half.

Isaiah Mills led the way with a career-high 23 points. He scored 17 in the first half and missed only 2 of 9 shots in the opening 20 minutes.

His previous high was 20 against Temple on Dec. 3. "It was a great feeling. Our [shooting] numbers haven't been as good as we wanted," the junior forward said. "Coming out tonight and shooting so well, me and my teammates, is just a great feeling."

Mills was not a one-man show for the Hawks (6-4). DeAndre' Bembry had 16 points and game-high totals in rebounds (9), assists (7) and steals (2).

The Hawks led by as many as 26 points in the first half and by 37-22 at halftime. But the Red Foxes (1-10)fought back to make it a game.