Lamarr Kimble (right) had a career-high 11 points in St. Joe's win over Temple. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
Stephen Pianovich (@SPianovich)
Lamarr Kimble is not one to shy away from a spotlight – especially when that spotlight is cast on big shots in big Philadelphia games.
Kimble played in hundreds of crucial minutes throughout his illustrious Neumann-Goretti career. But for the first month of his college career at St. Joseph’s, Kimble was mostly still getting his feet wet.
He made a boisterous splash on Sunday.
Kimble hit the biggest shot of the game, a 3-pointer which gave St. Joe’s the lead with two minutes left in overtime, and scored a career-best 11 points as the Hawks downed Temple, 66-65 at the Liacouras Center. The 6-foot guard was reliable all afternoon, and coach Phil Martelli trusted him throughout the game, leaving Kimble on the floor in the final minutes of regulation and all of overtime.
Though Kimble entered the game averaging 4.5 ppg and was 3-for-16 from beyond the arc on the season, Martelli still had reason to believe in the freshman.
“He’s had a lot of summer experience. He’s played in state championship games,” Martelli said. “His offensive game has not been like you saw today, and he’s stayed with it.”
For as much as the player known as “Fresh” did during his decorated high school and AAU careers before getting to St. Joe’s, he said after the game no shot was as big as the one he nailed with 2:13 left in overtime.
With St. Joe’s down, 65-63, Kimble found himself open on the right wing, and he let it fly. It was nothing but net, and the shot sent the small faction of St. Joe’s faithful of the 6,194 fans in attendance into an uproar.
“This one is definitely on the top of the list,” Kimble said. “Especially in my freshman year as a quiet dagger, it means a lot.”
St. Joe’s would not score again, but the triple was Kimble’s third of the day on just four attempts. His shooting and overall play were vital for the Hawks, as the rest of the team combined to go 3-for-19 (15.8 percent) from distance.
Though his shot has been sub-par since he started with the Hawks, Kimble said he was encouraged throughout practices and games to keep shooting.
“It’s just confidence,” he said. “They have confidence in me, and I have confidence in myself. That’s the biggest thing. They urge me and give me confidence every day in practice, so when there’s the opportunity to take those big shots, I’m not afraid of them.”
Kimble was one of four players to score in double-figures for the Hawks, joined by Isaiah Miles (12 points), Aaron Brown (11) and DeAndre’ Bembry (17).
Kimble played in 27 of the game’s 45 minutes and made his impact felt early. He had five points and his two assists in the first half, and he knocked in a first-half 3-pointer that Temple coach Fran Dunphy said he thought was “critical.”
While Kimble soaked up most of the time as the Hawks’ primary ball handler, starting point guard Shavar Newkirk was limited to five points on 2-of-5 shooting in 20 minutes. While it seems Kimble has earned himself a larger share of minutes moving forward, Martelli said the starting point guard spot is still a competition.
“Shavar is the starter and Fresh backs him up, and we’ll keep going with that until there’s an indication one has moved significantly ahead of the other,” Martelli said. “For a kid that lives closer to Temple than he does to St. Joe’s, that has to be a special moment for him.”
Kimble did not start Sunday, but he was in the game when it mattered the most. And he was doing what a lot of people in the city have seen a few times before: Fresh coming up clutch.
“He’s played in bigger games than this, so he’s never really scared of the moment,” Bembry said. “I remember the first time I saw him play was in the playoffs at our gym. And he hit a clutch '3' with like 10 seconds left. That’s something that reminds me of why he hit the shot today.”