The final game of Thursday's Charleston Classic action was decided by defense. Georgia Tech played defense well in the opening 20 minutes, but it was Saint Joseph's turning up the pressure in the second half to score a 66-53 win at TD Arena.
Saint Joseph's (2-0) faces Seton Hall, a 69-54 winner over Virginia Commonwealth, at 6 p.m. today. Georgia Tech (2-1) meet VCU at 8:30 p.m.
"The first half the word I would use is skitterish. We were all over the place," said Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli, whose team trailed 28-23 at the break thanks to a last-second Georgia Tech 3-pointer. Martelli said his team was inventive on offense and not in a good rhythm and flow.
"The second half our zone defense was good to us. Some of that was that they didn't make shots. And we were outrebounding (36-32) which for us is a switch.
"This team has been challenged defensively. It's not youth. You have to want to be a defender."
The Hawks broke the game open midway through the second half, rallying from the five-point halftime deficit to take a 48-39 lead with just under 10 minutes left in the game.
The second-half spark for Saint Joseph's was guard Langston Galloway, who was held scoreless in the first half but erupted for 15 second-half points. Carl Jones led Saint Joseph's with 21 points, while Halil Kanacevic had a double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
Georgia Tech was led by guard Mfon Udofia, who scored 20 points. Kammeon Holsey had 13 points and eight rebounds.
First-year Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory was disappointed with the outcome but saw some things the Yellow Jackets could use as building blocks.
"The first half I thought our defense and rebounding were very good," Gregory said. "The second half we struggled on offense and that affected our defense and rebounding. It's a sign of a young team. It's also a team trying to forge a new identity. There was an eight-minute stretch where they were more aggressive.
"We can't judge progress by a win or loss. We are making progress. It's a process. It won't change overnight. We have to be able to learn and grow."
The College of Charleston will return to participate in the 2012 Charleston Classic and will be joined by Baylor, Boston College, Colorado, Dayton, Southern Illinois, St. John's and a team to be announced.
Thursday's attendance total was 5,473, with 2,532 showing up for the two afternoon games and 2,941 for the night session. Last year the tournament set a record with 17,318 for the three-day event, won by Georgetown.
The 2008 attendance, when College of Charleston played, was 12,620, while the 2009 tournament drew 9,086.