December 30, 2020 –
It was the latest date for a Hawks home opener since the 1989-90 season. That date was the 4th of January when the LMU Lions came to visit. This game was also the curtain raiser for SJU in the Atlantic 10 facing the Rams of VCU, winners of 5 straight, who are known for Havoc, their surname for pressure defense.
Add to the challenge that Saint Joe’s leading scorer and rebounder Ryan Daly did not play due to a left thumb injury suffered in the Tennessee game.
The result was an 80 – 64 loss for SJU at the Hagan Arena.
The offense would have to come from others. The point leader in this game was Dahmir Bishop who set a career-high of 20 points making 6 of 13 field goals and 4 of 8 from beyond the arc.
“The whole flow of the game changes without Ryan,” said Bishop. “Offensively we have to look at the next option and try and get things going and do our best without him.”
Saint Joe’s needed more.
Early in the game the Hawks did getting a 10-point lead at 18 – 8. Then havoc kicked in. Maybe not full court but in the half court.
“They were trapping up sixty feet from the basket and make it very challenging because you have to come back to the ball,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Billy Lange. “You’re moving the ball then all of a sudden you’re trying to get into your offense and your players, you’re not sure what position they are going to be in because of the way they trap.”
Saint Joseph’s would be held to no field goals for over nine and a half minutes victimized by a 27 – 7 run by the Rams until Hawks guard Jadrian Tracey hit a three-pointer at the 3:11 mark.
“We were awesome in the first ten minutes,” Lange said. “Between 12 and 4 minutes we had 2 points and turnovers, then an onslaught of bad offense. That’s all VCU, that’s what they do. What they do to you in the backcourt cause disruption in the front court.”
In the second half SJU shot the ball poorly sinking 9 of 28 and only 2 of 13 three-pointers. Not enough offense to get back into the game.
Saint Joseph’s had 25 turnovers that gave VCU 29 points off turnovers.
Taylor Funk was the only other Hawk that scored in double figures getting 10 points. Cameron Brown scored 7 points and pulled down a game-high 8 rebounds.
Five Rams scored in double figures led by Vince Williams with 17 points. Adrian “Ace” Baldwin scored 12 and added a game-high 4 steals. Levi Stockard III contributed 10 points and 3 steals. Jamir Watkins and Keyshawn Curry had 10 each. The team leading scorer and rebounder Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland was held to 7 points on 2 of 9 shooting and handed out no assists.
VCU improves to 8 – 2 and are 1 – 0 in the conference.
Saint Joe’s still looks for their first win (0 – 6, 0 – 1), and travel to Rhode Island on January 3rd. The team is still learning but more learning is needed.
“It takes more, and we have to give more,” said Lange.
Written By: Glenn Papazian