NEW YORK -- The difference between winning and losing is so slight. When the weekend started the Hawks appeared to need a win to stay in realistic contention for an NCAA berth.
By Sunday, they were Atlantic 10 conference champion.
Imagine if Langston Galloway was called for a push before making his game-winning three-pointer with 19 seconds left in Friday’s 70-67 win over Dayton.
St. Joseph’s fate could have been changed.
Yet the Hawks won that game, one they played extremely well and deserved to win. And the Hawks were happy when Dayton was announced as an NCAA team.
If anybody doesn’t realize how difficult the A-10 is, having six teams in the NCAAs after having five last year, should give an indication.
After beating Dayton, the Hawks overcame an early nine-point deficit against a St. Bonaventure team to defeat the Bonnies 67-48.
And finally, there was the 65-61 victory over VCU, a deeper team that is as quick as any in the country.
Tied 54-54, the Hawks scored seven unanswered points beginning with Langston Galloway’s three-pointer with 2:28 left and the Rams weren’t able to recover.
So a team that was possibly a loss away from the NIT, is now the No. 10 seed in the East Regional and will face No. 7 Connecticut Thursday in Buffalo.
Give the Hawks credit for their physical and mental toughness. Playing their third game in three days, the five starters each went 37 or more minutes against VCU.
Tournament Most Outstanding Player Halil Kanacevic and Galloway, each played all 40.
This is a team that hasn’t had much depth, but at least in this tournament it didn’t hurt.
“You can’t get tired when you are winning,” Kanacevic said.
One could see how mentally drained the Hawks were after these three games. Now on Monday they won’t practice, but will lift, shoot and do film work.
Then by Tuesday it will be preparing for a strong defensive UCONN team, allowing 62.9 points per game.
This was a weekend where things went the Hawks way, but they made their own breaks.
“It certainly gave us even more confidence after winning the A-10 Tournament,” said DeAndre’ Bembry, who had 13 point s and eight assists in the final.
So the Hawks are confident and now just have to recharge after being emotionally drained and rightly so.
“Thursday gives us enough time (to recover),” point guard Chris Wilson said.
One thing is for sure, despite being a No. 10 seed, the Hawks aren’t just happy to be there. They see what it feels like to win in a tournament setting and now in the bigger stage, they will be intent on having that feeling return.