CHARLESTON, S.C. - Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli thought the biggest step his young team took came during halftime.
That's when the Hawks aired out their first-half problems and came up with plans to fix it once play resumed. The result? A satisfying, 66-53 victory over Georgia Tech at the Charleston Classic on Thursday night.
Carl Jones scored 21 points, Langston Galloway had all 15 of his points in the second half and Hofstra transfer Halil Kanacevic posted a double-double to lift the Hawks (2-0) to victory.
Martelli, the Hawks coach since 1995-96, has 10 freshmen and sophomores on his 13-man roster and knows he and his assistants must spend plenty of time helping the growth process along.
So he was grateful to hear the grown-up words of his mostly young players that helped Saint Joseph's overcome Georgia Tech's five-point halftime lead.
"We did not play very well in the first half," Martelli said. "I was pleased with the way they talked to each other at halftime. They were a little bit older, a little bit tougher."
That showed in the second half. Galloway hit the first shot he took, then added another jumper minutes later that wiped out the Yellow Jackets' lead and tied the game at 31.
Jones followed with a 3-pointer as Saint Joseph's took the lead for good.
Galloway made a three-point play as the Hawks went up 42-36. By the time Ronald Roberts made a foul shot with 8:58 left, Saint Joseph's had put together a 23-9 run that locked the game up.
Georgia Tech didn't get the deficit out of double digits the rest of the way.
Mfon Udofia led the Yellow Jackets (2-1) with 20 points, although he was 0-for-4 from behind the arc. Georgia Tech made just one of its 12 3-point attempts.
Kammeon Holsey had 13 points and eight rebounds for Georgia Tech, which lost for the first time since Brian Gregory took over as coach as Paul Hewitt's replacement.
Gregory was disappointed that his team got outmuscled in that second-half stretch. "It's maybe the sign of a young team, which we are," Gregory said. "And maybe of a team that's trying to forge a new identity."
Gregory, then Dayton's coach, ended last season with a loss at TD Arena to College of Charleston in the NIT when the higher-seeded Flyers were sent on the road because their campus was hosting NCAA tournament games. "I don't like it very much," Gregory said with a smile.
The Yellow Jackets, though, did have the support of College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins, who sat amongst Georgia Tech fans.
Cremins was Georgia Tech's longtime coach, leading the team to the 1990 Final Four.
"I only wish we gave him something better to watch," Gregory said.
Saint Joseph's took care of that.
Jones, a junior, controlled the game from the point while Kanacevic almost single-handedly kept Georgia Tech off the glass. Kanacevic had five of the Hawks' 10 offensive rebounds.
Jones said his teammates knew they hadn't played well in the first half, which he and Martelli said was the result of two awful practices since arriving in Charleston.
Jones and the players took it upon themselves to end the problems and get back to playing the way they know they can. Saint Joseph's outscored Georgia Tech 43-25 in the final 20 minutes.
"The way we played in the second half, that's our game, that the way we play," Jones said. "The first half carried over from the two bad practices we had."
Jones said the Hawks had a few jitters coming out against Georgia Tech, but got rid of those during the frank locker room talk. "We found ourselves and played our game," he said.