This game was a microcosm of St. Joseph’s entire season – flashes of brilliance followed by moments of ineptness.
Really, it’s hard to figure out how the Hawks found themselves in a tight struggle with George Washington in the closing minutes of Sunday’s game at Hagan Arena.
For nearly 20 minutes, the Hawks looked as if they would stroll to an easy win. Even when GW cut its disadvantage to single digits, St. Joe’s seemed to be in control.
Then the second half started and, for the second straight game, St. Joe’s fell apart over the final 20 minutes.
The result was the Hawks’ ugly 70-56 loss to a team that was predicted to finish near the bottom of the Atlantic 10.
With the score 52-52 with 5 ½ minutes left, St. Joe’s (7-7, 0-2 A-10) missed on four opportunities to take a lead. George Washington (5-9, 1-0) scored 18 points in the final 4:11 to pull out the win.
By comparison, St. Joe’s scored just four in the final six minutes of the game.
In his postgame news conference, Hawks coach Phil Martelli looked at the final box score for nearly a minute before speaking. It was ugly reading, especially the second half, when St. Joe’s totaled 24 points while allowing the Colonials to put up 45. The Hawks also shot just 25.7 percent in the second half, while allowing GW to make 14 of 25 field-goal attempts (56.0 percent).
“The numbers are the numbers here,” Martelli said. “We had nobody play in the game who shot 50 percent.”
Charlie Brown led the Hawks with 20 points, but he needed 23 shots, making only eight.
It wasn’t that bad shooting did in the Hawks. It was bad defense. St. Joe’s led, 14-2, with 12:41 minutes left in the first half, but GW outscored the Hawks, 41-22 over the next 20 minutes to lead, 43-36, with 12:41 remaining in the game.
“We let a team come into our building and score more than 40 points in the second half. … It’s like a hole in the dike. How many fingers to you have?”
This was a continuation of some disturbing trends for the Hawks. On Thursday, George Mason scored 51 second-half points in a win at Hagan. Since beating Princeton, 92-82, on Dec. 5, St. Joe’s has reached 60 only once in five games. The Hawks had scored fewer than 70 points just once in their first nine games.
“This is built to be a 72- to 75-point team, and we haven’t been there for more than three weeks,” Martelli said. “That’s a hard way to play.