The Pools grabbed the lead against the run of play when a poor back-pass from Ashley Hemmings put home goalkeeper Aaron McCarey in trouble and he tripped Steve Howard, Evan Horwood drilling home the resulting penalty after 27 minutes.
For all their pressure Walsall could not find a way through the visitors' defence until four minutes into the second half when Will Grigg's drive was blocked following a corner and defender Dean Holden struck home the rebound.
After his third game at the helm, Hughes said: "I am delighted with a point - we are fighting for our lives. Walsall were the better football team, I put my hand up to that, but for spirit and effort we deserved a point. We rode our luck at times, but it's about time we had a bit of luck.
"Walsall are a nice footballing side who pass the ball well and we had to make sure we had 100% concentration.
"But the next time we play Walsall (in the new year) we shall be a much better football side. At the moment our game plan is to keep ourselves in matches, and we might nick a goal. We were brave enough to make substitutions and try to win this match."