Minutemen dump tired Hawks, end three-game winning streak

A third game in just five days finally caught up with St. Joe’s, as they had their three-game winning streak stopped at the hand of UMass, 87-80.

Ricky Harris led all scorers with 23 points, and the Minutemen pulled away thanks to four second-half threes by Freddie Riley.

“[It’s] very disappointing,” St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli. “We disserve better because we had been playing better. We looked tired, and we thought tired. We didn’t fight through when we had chances in both halves. We worked our tails to get back and get the lead in the second half and we step off a known three-point shooter [Riley] for them to tie it.”

Garrett Williamson, ’10, led the way with an impressive line, highlighted by a double-double of 16 points and 10 assists. He also swiped six steals, three bocks, three rebounds, and no turnovers.

“We got a team like that and we were on the ropes with them, but we never got that knockout punch.” Williamson said. “We never really had that surge of stops and good possessions on offense that we’ve had these last few games.”

But signs of fatigue prevailed on many of his teammates, as the Hawks missed seven free throws in the second half, including two front ends of one-and-ones, and had several costly and unforced turnovers late.

St. Joe’s (8-12, 2-4 Atlantic 10) jumped out to a 20-14 lead midway through the first half thanks to eight early points from Todd O’Brien, ’12. But their offense soon stagnated, yielding just one basket in the next six minutes and allowing the Minutemen to run off a 23-5 spurt that put them ahead by 12 at the 3:46 mark.

The Hawks countered to close the half with a run of their own, outscoring UMass 14-2 to end the half down just a basket.

St. Joe’s kept the momentum on the other side of halftime, and took a 49-46 lead with 16:45 left to play through an old-fashioned three-point play by Williamson. But Riley answered with a triple of his own to start an 8-0 run that gave UMass the lead for good. The Minutemen sunk six threes in the second half despite entering the game shooting just 29.5 percent from three this season.

The Hawks almost found a window back into the game, as a steal by Williamson with 19 seconds left set up Darrin Govens, ’10, for a three that would have cut the lead in half, but the shot went halfway in and then out.

Terrell Vinson added 16 points and nine rebounds for UMass (8-12, 2-4 A-10), while Riley finished with 14. The Minutemen shot 47.6 percent from the field (30-63), aided by a constant ability to get to the basket for high-percentage looks, and held a 44-31 edge on the glass.

Idris Hilliard, ’11, chipped in 14 points, all after halftime, while O’Brien slowed considerably down the stretch to finish with 12. Carl Jones, ’13, added 11 off the bench, while Bryant Irwin, ’11, and Govens finished with nine each, though they combined for just 8-21 from the field and 0-7 from three.

Offensively, the Hawks’ numbers were solid, including an assist-to-turnover ratio of more than two to one (21-10) 46.3 percent shooting from the field (31-67). But it was consistency that Martelli said was lacking.

“All these numbers are fine,” he said. “We just didn’t have enough consecutive plays for our style. I think it was more that they ran really good offense and they made their shots.”

The Hawks hit the road after four straight games in Philadelphia with a date at Duquesne (10-9, 1-4 A-10) on Sunday. They face off against the Minutemen again in just over two weeks, this time in Amherst, on Valentine’s Day.

– Matthew De George ’10


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