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Philly Hoops Champs

The Hawks are the Champions of the Philadelphia Big Five for both men’s and women’s basketball.

SJU men's basketball team standing in front of the Big 5 flag

Written by: Paige Verrillo, MS ’25

Spring 2024

Total reading time: 3 minutes

The 2023-24 season marked the first time in school history that both the Saint Joseph’s men’s and women’s basketball teams claimed the Philadelphia Big 5 title.

The group of five NCAA Division I schools, La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph's, Temple and Villanova, have continually played each other every year since the mid 1950s, a feat unparalleled in any other city in the United States. At the start of the 2023-24 season, the Big 5 expanded to include Drexel on the men’s side with the introduction of the Big 5 Classic.

Men’s Basketball Earns 21st Big 5 Crown

Men’s basketball's Big 5 Classic journey began at home on Nov. 10, 2023, as Lynn Greer III, BA ’25, paced the Hawks with a career-best 11 assists and added 13 points as St. Joe’s topped Penn, 69-61.

Looking to go undefeated in their pod, the Hawks traveled to Villanova on Nov. 29, 2023, with the winner set to advance to the Big 5 Classic title game. The Hawks got an early lead on the Wildcats, with back-to-back three pointers from Cameron Brown, BSBA ‘23, MBA ’24, and Xzayvier Brown, BSBA ’27. Erik Reynolds II, BSBA ’25, helped finish off the victory as the junior capped the night with a game-high 24 points as the Hawks topped the Wildcats, 78-65.

Advancing to the inaugural Big 5 Classic title game on Dec. 2, 2023, at the Wells Fargo Center, Saint Joseph’s took control from the start. Reynolds II, Cameron Brown, and Xzayvier Brown pushed the Hawks to a 34-23 lead at halftime. The Owls cut St. Joe’s lead to four in the second half, but Greer III and Rasheer Fleming, BA ’26, made sure Temple would get no closer as the Hawks pulled away for a 74-65 win. Following the victory, the 21st Big 5 crown in program history, Saint Joseph’s championship banner was raised to the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center.

The men’s team was selected to compete in the 2024 National Invitation Tournament, facing Seton Hall in the first round. And while the Pirates outlasted the Hawks in overtime, 75-72, Saint Joseph’s capped the 2023-24 season with its most wins (21) since 2015-16 (28) and first postseason appearance since 2015-16.

Women’s Basketball Claim Undefeated Big 5 Season

On the women’s side, the Hawks swept the city as well, going 4-0 in Big 5 play for the first time since 2013-14. Opening city series play at Penn on Nov. 14, 2023, Saint Joseph’s used a second-half surge to vault itself to a 77-49 win at The Palestra.

Saint Joseph’s moved to 2-0 in the Big 5 as they outlasted Temple, 67-65, in overtime behind a 21-point, 13-rebound performance from Laura Ziegler, BS ’26, on Nov. 22. Villanova followed on Dec. 9, 2023 at Hagan Arena. St. Joe's recorded its largest comeback of the season with a 10-point deficit in the second half, earning a 73-67 victory. 

The Big 5 championship was decided at Hagan Arena where the Hawks took on the La Salle Explorers. Emotions were high throughout the game, and in the fourth quarter, the Hawks opened with eight straight points, as back-to-back triples from Chloe Welch, MS ’25, and Talya Brugler, BSBA ’25, gave them a 51-32 lead and eventual 64-39 victory. Champions at last!

The Hawks went on to play in the Women’s Basketball Invitation tournament (WBIT), making it all the way to the quarterfinals against Big 5 foe Villanova. While the Hawks came up short against the Cats, this was a record-setting season, as St. Joe’s won their program-best 28 games and made it to their first postseason quarterfinals since the 2004 season.