November 26, 2020 –
The Saint Joseph’s Hawks opened the men’s basketball season at the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip Off. The Hawks had opportunities, but were downed 96 – 91 in overtime by the Auburn Tigers. Taylor Funk scored a career-high 28 points for the Hawks.
This became a back and forth game over the last six minutes of regulation and in the overtime. While Saint Joe’s took leads eventually the Auburn strength in rebounding was the difference.
Auburn outrebounded Saint Joe’s by a 56 – 39 margin, 21 – 13 on the offensive glass. That gave Auburn a 30 – 16 edge in second chance points.
“The rebounding is unacceptable,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Billy Lange. “I look at the numbers and we got too many guys that played too many minutes and got very little rebounds. We have a mascot on the side that is flapping four thousand times. I expect us to go after every rebound with the same intensity. This is high major basketball and we have high major aspirations, and you will not get it done without an attitude or an edge. We did not attack the ball tonight.”
The Tigers led for most of the game and had an 11-point edge midway through the second half. SJU kept chipping away at the lead getting to within a point with 6:27 on the clock. The Hawks tied the game twice on the last four minutes. The team finally grabbed the lead on a Taylor Funk follow up off a missed free throw by Ryan Daly and another Funk basket grow the lead to 3 points as 38 seconds remained. Another Daly free throw gave the Hawks a two-point edge, but a layup by Auburn forward Jaylin Williams at the 14 second mark tied it. Daly got a look at the buzzer, but his three pointer was short.
In overtime Saint Joseph’s took the lead again, but another Williams layup with 1:10 on the clock gave Auburn a lead it would never give up. The Hawks did not score over the last 2:03 in the extra five minutes.
“If I make some free throws, the game is a little different,” said Daly. “I like our effort and we didn’t quit, but there should never be any quitting. It’s cool it was a close game, but it really stings for me personally.”
The Hawks showed great resilience by climbing back, but could not put the game in the win column, which is what they came to do.
“That’s what we do,” Lange said. “The Hawk will never die and that’s what we do. You don’t do that, you don’t play. I’m encouraged by this group’s opportunity to represent that. It’s great they’re resilient, but there’s no party for that.”
SJU had five players post double figures in scoring led by Funk. He made 11 of 16 from the floor and was 4 of 9 from distance wile adding 7 boards. Daly scored 18 points and took down 7 rebounds. Jack Forrest converted 5 of his 9 shots and got 15 points. Dahmir Bishop contributed 14 points while Greg Foster, Jr. added 11 points. It is encouraging that Daly was not the only scorer.
Williams led the Tigers with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Devan Cambridge also recorded a double-double with 13 and 10. Justin Powell added 17 points.
Saint Joseph’s plays again tomorrow meeting 6th ranked Kansas at 2 PM, another chance to compete.
Written By: Glenn Papazian