UNCASVILLE, Conn. -
Sometimes the best plays aren't always the ones a coach draws up.
That was the case for Saint Joseph's on Sunday when the Hawks edged Old Dominion, 66-64, in the Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament consolation game.
Two free throws by ODU's Aaron Bacote tied the game at 64 with 14 seconds left in regulation. But after a Hawks timeout, Shavar Newkirk buried a 15-foot shot with one second left that enabled St. Joe's to gain a split in the tournament.
"It was pretty much a broken play," Newkirk said. "Normally, I'm a point guard and a playmaker and I create. I saw a broken play and took the opportunity."
Newkirk was one of a trio of Hawks (4-1) who reached double figures with Isaiah Miles scoring a game-high 18 points and DeAndré Bembry adding 15.
"(Newkirk) was going to 'X' off Isaiah and Aaron Brown was going to circle," Hawks coach Phil Martelli said of the plan for the final play. "Then, we were going to have Isaiah and DeAndré play a two-man game.
"I'll have to look and find out how (Newkirk) ended up there. I don't have any idea how he ended up in that position. I don't have a complaint with anybody taking a shot. Obviously, he hasn't practiced that. But we should have done more with that."
Trey Freeman (15 points) and Zoran Talley (12) led the Monarchs (3-2).
"It was a hard turnaround for us because their offensive stuff is intricate," Martelli said. "We really did this on film and paper study. And we had to bring our motors.
"For long stretches of time, they had a much better motor than we did. There was a point where the older guys were talking and saying, 'We're not coming up here to lose two in a row.' Give credit to our players."
The Hawks' inability to make free throws cost them in Saturday's 74-63 loss to Florida, but their foul shooting was just the opposite against ODU.
St. Joseph's shot 70.4 percent (19-for-27) from the line, including a pair by Brown with 35.5 seconds left that gave the Hawks a 63-60 lead.
A tip-in by ODU's Denzell Taylor sliced the lead to one point, and at the other end Newkirk converted only one of two free throws, which gave the Monarchs the chance to to tie it.
That's exactly what happened when Bacote drained his free throws which, in retrospect, set up Newkirk's "broken play."
The Hawks' defense was anything but broken, considering it held the Monarchs to 38 percent shooting and limited leading scorer Freeman to 7-for-19 shooting.
"We knew coming in that Freeman was an all-league player," Martelli said. "We went with a smaller guy on him early, with Shavar and Lamarr Kimble guarding him. Then, we went with James (Demery) and DeAndré.
"I thought James' defense that last 12 minutes was really a big plus for us."