There were many key factors in St. Joseph’s classic 70-69 win over Temple on Saturday at Hagan Arena.
Fighting back from a nine-point deficit with under six minutes left showed plenty of character for the Hawks.
They had to survive one of the great offensive efforts the team will see afer surviving a career-high 34-point explosion by Khalif Wyatt.
And the Hawks were outscored from the three-point line, 33 to 12.
So what gives?
Well, one major factor was the all-around brilliance of Halil Kanacevic.
The 6-foot-8 junior had 12 points nine rebounds and eight assists.
Since returning after missing three games to attend his uncle's funeral in Europe, Kanacevic is playing his best basketball of the season.
In the last four games he is averaging 13.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.0 assis and is shooting 20 for 31 from the field and 13 for 14 from the foul line.
“Since he got back he has lived up to what he told me,” Hawks coach Phil Martelli said. “He texted me before he left the country and said he will be stronger than ever and he has been stronger than ever.”
Not so coincidentally, St. Joseph’s is playing its best basketball of the season. The 13-7 Hawks have a season-best three-game winning streak for the second time. At 4-3 in the Atlantic-10, they are just one game out of first place in the loss column.
Kanacevic never likes to talk very much about his individual performance, preferring to discuss how the team is doing.
“We can build confidence but not let it get to our heads,” Kanacevic said. “We still have a long way to go.”
That is true, especially in the Atlantic-10, where it is no exaggeration that there are no easy games.
Still, even beyond the stat sheet, Kanacevic brings a certain toughness and he has one of the highest basketball IQ’s in the A-10.
Right now, both Kanacevic and the Hawks are on a little roll. The two are definitely related.