Realizing his team was about to play its third game in five days, St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli went easy on the Hawks at practice Tuesday. All they did was practice foul shooting. Otherwise, they tried to save their legs.
So what happened Wednesday night against Massachusetts in an Atlantic Ten game at Hagan Arena? Caught up in a fast pace, the Hawks appeared fatigued, and they had a poor game at the free-throw line.
The result was an 87-80 win by UMass (8-12, 2-4 A-10) that ended the Hawks' three-game winning streak.
"No excuses," St. Joe's senior guard Garrett Williamson said when asked whether the team got tired. "The last four minutes, you've got to suck that up; you know you've got tomorrow off. No. I'm not making no excuses."
As usual, Williamson did all he could to prevent the defeat with an impressive statistical line - 16 points, 10 assists, six steals, three blocked shots.
"Amazing," Martelli said. "That's a winning line."
But it's not a winning formula for St. Joe's to get involved in high-scoring games, because the Hawks (8-12, 2-4) don't have enough firepower, especially when their other senior guard, Darrin Govens, is off target. The team's leading scorer, Govens had nine points on 4-for-11 shooting. He was 0 for 5 from three-point distance. In his last four games, the former Chester High star is 15 for 49 (30.6 percent) overall and 6 for 27 (22.2 percent) from three-point range.
"No, I'm not comfortable with it [a game in the 80s], but it was what it was," Martelli said. "We talked about buckling down. They're 1-10 when they're under 70 points. But we didn't have any pop. They scored six straight points against our zone defense in the lane. When it got to be going like that, that's how we had to play it, but, no, I didn't want to play an 80-point game."
Two big runs by the Minutemen - one in each half - and poor free-throw shooting by St. Joe's figured heavily in the Hawks' loss. UMass went on a 19-2 surge in the first half that left St. Joe's looking at a 33-22 deficit. The Hawks fought back and took leads of 49-46 and 56-54 in the second half before the Minutemen, with freshman Freddie Riley draining four three-point baskets, went on a 15-2 tear to regain the 11-point lead.
"We had trouble in transition matching up with their shooters and they got some open looks," Williamson said. "They made their runs when we needed to get some stops, and that's what hurt us."
St. Joe's made another comeback attempt, but it fell short when both Todd O'Brien and Williamson missed the front end of one-and-ones and Govens missed a three-point attempt with the Hawks down, 86-80, that could have made for an interesting conclusion.
"It's very disappointing," Martelli said. "We deserve better because we've been playing better. We looked tired - three games in five days - and we thought tired. We didn't fight through when we had chances in both halves. We've got to go back to work. This is why we're 8-12. All the warts were there."
Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.