The Hawks Lost a Late Lead, but Sent the Game to an Extra Five Minutes
PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/16/2022 –
The Saint Joseph’s Hawks and the George Mason Patriots played a competitive, a close game. Call it a proximity game where each team had a lead, but could not create separation from one another. Only fitting that an extra five minutes were necessary to decide the outcome. Hawks guard Jordan Hall hit a jump shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime tied at 64. Saint Joe’s did not have enough offense in overtime, and Mason did. Little things were costly as the Patriots win 75 – 70 at the Hagan Arena. Another hard lesson for SJU.
“This is part of learning how to win,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Billy Lange. “It’s the growth of figuring out how to finish. We have to complete that. It’s part of the growing pains. That’s why stiff like this hurts.”
“I’m encouraged by the competitiveness of our group.”
Josh Oduro Factor
Additionally, George Mason had Josh Oduro on the floor. The leading scorer in the Atlantic 10 set a collegiate-mark with 33 points shooting 12 of 18 form the field, 2 three-pointers, and went 7 of 8 from the free throw line. Nine of the eleven points GMU scored in overtime were by Oduro. He also pulled down a team-high 8 rebounds. The Mason forward matched his career-high in made field goals, that mark against Saint Joe’s.
“They have the player of the year in the Atlantic 10,” Lange said. “If it ends today, when it ends, Josh Oduro is getting my vote. I can’t be talked out of that at this stage after playing him twice.”
Lack of Overtime Offense
In overtime the Saint Joseph’s offense sputtered making just 1 of 5 field goal attempts, and missing 3 free throws. For the game SJU was 12 of 21 from the charity stripe. Oduro sank back-to-back three-point plays to give his team a cushion.
The Little Things Turned Against Saint Joseph’s
Midway through the second half the Hawks got some momentum on a three-pointer and a free throw by Erik Reynolds II, who scored 16 points. Hall and Cameron Brown drained consecutive three-pointers. Baskets by Reynolds II and Hall gave the hosts a 60 – 50 lead with 3:33 to play.
Mason began their comeback chipping away at the Saint Joe’s lead. The Hawks put only 4 more points on the scoreboard in regulation including the Hall buzzer-beater.
Then more little things went against SJU. Patriot guard D’Shawn Schwartz made 2 free throws to bring the team to within 9 points. The Hawks turn the ball over on the inbounds play and Davonte Gaines swishes a three-pointer. After another three-point basket by Schwartz that cut the SJU lead to 64 – 60, the Hawks turned the ball over again. DeVon Cooper made the Hawks pay for their mistake with another three-ball at the 1:04 mark. Mason also converted 4 of 6 free throws during that span of time.
“They made two really hard shots and made a lot of free throws in the last three minutes,” Lange said. “We have an alignment that we are supposed to do on a made free throw, and we didn’t do it. It’s got to be communicated. Those are the tiny details that we have to work through.”
On the ensuing possession Hall missed a layup. Schwartz converted at the other end and George Mason took the lead. Later, Gaines made one of two from the line. He had three shots as the second one was negated by a Saint Joe’s lane violation, but he missed that extra chance. Hawks ball, and Hall the opportunity to make his dramatic shot.
“Generally, I’m not going to call timeout in that setting,” said Lange. “The guys ran to great spacing and Jordan made a great shot. We’re organized enough to do that. It’s the tiny things we have to work through.”
Schwartz scored 18 points and Xavier Johnson added 13 points for the Patriots.
The Hawks had three other players in double-figures led by Hall with 17 points. He added 6 assists. Brown contributed 15 points. Ejike Obinna had 12 points and a team-high 9 rebounds. Reynolds II set a career-high pulling down 8 rebounds.
Saint Joseph’s falls to 10 – 14, and is 4 – 9 in the Atlantic 10. The Hawks take the floor next on Saturday against Dayton, looking to learn another lesson and correcting those little things.
“Go back and forth to all of those little things.” Lange said. “Teams are going to make runs at the end of the game. Play free, you have to not turn the ball over, you have to not foul, you have to make free throws. It comes down to these things at the end of the game when you have a lead. That’s the growing pains. I’m at peace because I remain encouraged. I’m upset because the guys had this.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian