PRINCETON — It's not just because St. Joseph's has played Penn since the inception of the Big 5 that the Hawks know that Ivy League teams are not to be overlooked — particularly Princeton at Jadwin Gymnasium.
St. Joe's beat the Tigers in 2017, but entering Wednesday's matchup, the Hawks led the all-time series just 9-8.
There also was the fact that Princeton was riding a three-game winning streak, including a 21-point dusting of Atlantic 10 member George Washington.
The Tigers played it tough, but St. Joe's was up to the challenge and came away with a 92-82 victory.
After being held scoreless in a frustrating first half, Fresh Kimble scored 10 of his 22 points in a four-minute stretch, as the Hawks extended a two-point lead to 60-45 with 14:01 remaining.
Freshman Jared Bynum scored 19 with six assists, and Taylor Funk added 16 points and seven rebounds.
Kimble's scoring burst coincided with Charlie Brown, Jr. exiting the game with a right-ankle injury one minute into the second half.
Brown, who entered the game ranked 17th in the nation in scoring, had 11 points and five rebounds. He did not return to the game. The Hawks were already without sixth-man Pierfrancesco Oliva, who was still suffering from symptoms of a concussion in Saturday's game against Temple.
"It was winning time," said Kimble, who shot 8 of 12 in the second half. "I tried to lead my team as best as possible, especially when the best scorer on the team goes down.
"I felt like I had to pick that up some and do anything to give my guys some energy."
Princeton, however, wouldn't roll over for the Hawks. The Tigers (3-4) went on a 21-7 run to cut the deficit to 72-66 with 5 1/2 minutes remaining.
But Kimble made a steal that resulted in a dunk by Markell Lodge, then made another steal and drove the length of the court for a layup while getting fouled. He completed the three-point play to put the Hawks (5-4) up 77-66.
Princeton pushed back again and cut the lead to 80-74 with just over three minutes remaining, but Kimble responded again. He posted up on the left baseline and hit a turnaround jumper, and the Hawks closed out the win.
"We never trailed," St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli said. "We just went 40 minutes on the road not trailing. … Overall, however, we have to get tougher, and that has to happen in practice. … It's almost a third of the season.
"We have to find a way to become more resilient and get tougher."