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St. Joe's surges past Illinois State

The Hawks used a first-half 24-4 run to take down the Redbirds.

After an encouraging start to the game and with things looking good for St. Joseph's early on against Illinois State, a seven-minute stretch midway through the first half changed the outlook on Saturday.

The Redbirds had their first lead, and the Hawks looked like they'd never seen a zone defense.

When Hawks sophomore James Demery was fouled driving to the basket, it was a perfect time for the under-eight-minute media timeout.

Whatever Phil Martelli said in the huddle worked. The Hawks closed the final 7 minutes, 12 seconds of the half with a 24-4 run and never looked back in a 79-65 win at Hagan Arena for their fourth victory in a row.

"We were just playing around the zone and not in the zone," Martelli said. "We're not a bad shooting team. Our numbers are not anything to write home about, but sometimes we settle.

"There's nothing magical said. We went from our four-zone offense to our three-zone offense."

The run - which took the Hawks into halftime with a 45-26 lead - featured three three-pointers from DeAndre' Bembry, who finished the game with 16 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists, and was capped off by a steal and coast-to-coast three-point play by Demery, who scored 12 points for St. Joe's.

"That was a monster, monster play," Martelli said of Demery's layup with two seconds left in the first half.

Shevar Newkirk's 13 points tied a career-high. Isaiah Miles scored 16, and Aaron Brown scored 11 to make it five Hawks in double figures.

Illinois State (5-7) was paced by MiKyle McIntosh's 16 points.

St. Joe's (8-2) led by as many as 32, 74-42, when Miles hit a pair of free throws after Illinois State coach Dan Muller was assessed a technical foul with 7:56 left in the game.

The Hawks, who travel to Brooklyn Tuesday night for a game against Virginia Tech, shot 46.6 percent from the floor, including 45.5 percent (15 for 33) from beyond the three-point arc. They used 21 assists on their 27 baskets, with Newkirk chipping in six helpers.

"Our numbers indicate that we haven't been a good shooting team," Martelli said. "That's not indicative of our practice habits. The ball goes in. We have to keep shooting it. I get more concerned with how quick we shoot the ball sometimes.

"There's freedom here as long as the ball moves."

It sure moved Saturday.