If there was ever any doubt what a healthy Charlie Brown means to St. Joseph's basketball lineup, Monday night was the perfect example.
Two games into the 2018-19 campaign has made it clear: The Hawks have plenty of offensive weapons, but they're most lethal with Brown on the floor.
So when the redshirt sophomore picked up his second foul less than six minutes into the game against Monmouth and had to sit the rest of the half, the rest of the Hawks struggled to find a rhythm.
They opened 4 of 19 from deep and just 7 of 20 on shots inside the arc but still led by six at the break.
Insert Brown, who missed all of last season with a left wrist injury. He opened the game after intermission with a catch-and-shoot triple and scored his team's first eight points, keying the Hawks to a 78-63 win at Hagan Arena.
Brown, who finished with 21 points, hit a driving bank shot with 18 minutes, 17 seconds left to give St. Joe's a 36-25 lead. The margin never shrink to single digits the rest of the way.
Minutes later, it was Brown in transition, finishing a three-on-one break with a basket through contact. A free throw, part of an 8-0 St. Joe's spurt, put the Hawks up, 53-36.
"Once I got back out there, everything started to flow a little better," Brown said. "I just came out with the mentality to score. We struggled in the first half offensively, so I wanted to ease it up a little bit."
"That's what he can do," Hawks coach Phil Martelli said. "He can score baskets. You have a guy that scores 21 points in 23 minutes. He did that in one of our scrimmages. But we have to have balanced play in order for him to be a feature player."
It was the little things that had the coach a little frustrated after the win. Namely, they were the missed layups (the team finished 21 of 39 from two-point range), the seven missed free throws and the interior defense. There wasn't enough "pop" in the first half, Martelli said, and it was a little ugly at times, even if his team had only six turnovers.
"We should have played better basketball," Martelli said.
Fresh Kimble tallied 19 for St. Joe's, and Lorenzo Edwards scored a career-best 11.
Ray Salnave paced Monmouth (0-3) with 14 points.
St. Joe's (2-0) and Monmouth next head to Conway, S.C., for the Myrtle Beach Invitational, which will begin Thursday, when the Hawks take on Wake Forest. Also in the tournament are West Virginia, Central Florida, and Western Kentucky.
With Brown and the rest of the offense clicking, and the little things coming together, it's not hard to envision a tournament championship game against preseason No. 13 West Virginia come Sunday.