St. Joe’s-Richmond live blog

8:51- Geriot attempts to draw a charge on Govens (he has taken 17 already this year; I just had to get that stat in somewhere), and sends him to the line for one of two with 13.7 left. The Hawks don’t foul on the other end, and the Spiders leave the Hagan Arena with a 68-58 win. Post game wrap in just a bit…

8:49- Anderson converts one from the line as Irwin fumbles a pass out of bounds for the symbolism play of the night, and Hilliard sends Smith to the line on the other end with 18.6 left.

8:48- Crosgile makes two of three, but it’s window-dressing at this point as the Hawks still trail 66-57 with under 40 ticks left.

8:46- Govens gives the ball away again in something that was close enough to the rim that we’ll call it an airball instead of a turnover (looked more like a dry heave with a basketball), and Butler hits a jumper after milking the shot clock all the way down. Bulter fouls Crosgile behind the arc on the other end for his fifth foul, but he departs with 15 points (the same total as in ’08).

8:45- Bulter turns it over, but Govens returns the favor for the 258th time tonight, and Anderson hits a jumper in transition to quiet the Hawks for the time being and send a few of the crimson and gray clad faithful towards the exit. Richmond is up nine with 1:40 to play.

8:43- Williamson earns a trip to the line, but can only convert one of two. Lead’s down to seven.

8:41- A three by Govens on the left wing elicits a cheer from the stands that is half-hearted at best, but another triple by Irwin the next time down gets them out of their seats a little. The survive an offensive rebound on the other end of the court, and have the ball down eight now, 62-54, with 2:30 left in the game.

8:37- A lay-in by Martel has the lead up to 14, and Martelli wants to talk things over with 4:29 left and the score at 62-48.

8:35- Since the game’s pace is doing little to scintillate me, let’s fire up the Bracketology machine (trademark of Joe Lunardi two seats to my right). Richmond is 16-6 right now, and while they have two tough games after this, it wouldn’t be a reach to expect them to finish the regular season somewhere around 22-9 and 11-5 in a strong A-10. They’re currently 38th in RPI, and look like one of anywhere from four to six bids the conference could get this year. Lunardi currently has them as a 10 seed, and there is still a chance for them to take a firm grasp of that “second best A-10 team” honor with the games they have ahead. If they stay as a 10, they’ll be a nice upset pick thanks to this veteran, balanced squad.

8:32- It now looks like Richmond is just getting bored and using whatever defense they want, this time employing a high-ball trap to force Irwin into a wild-three that hits nothing but air. The Spiders turn it over on the ensuing possession, however, and the Hawks will have the ball on the other side of the media timeout, down 56-46 with 7:16 to play.

8:29- Irwin hits a three from the corner, his first points of the game to get the Hawks within eight, but a poor box-out allows Kevin Smith to fly in from the weakside for a putback on a missed three by Gonzalvez. Richmond takes a timeout, their second of the game, with 7:57 left and the score at 56-46.

8:26- Just a side note we forgot to mention earlier, Richmond has never beaten St. Joe’s in the Hawks’ building. Their 0-7 on the road against St. Joe’s, and just 2-13 all-time.

That looks certain to change tonight, especially with Williamson sitting with his fourth foul with 8:50 left in the game and the Hawks down 11, 54-43.

8:24- Richmond is doing an excellent job of throwing a lot of different looks at the Hawks in their halfcourt defense. Head Coach Chris Mooney is switching in man-to-man with zone looks varying in far out they come to contest shooters, and it’s keeping the Hawks off-balance, as the 13 turnovers indicate.

8:22- Crosgile hits a 19-footer, which gets the rather sparsely populated student section to make some noise. But that’s quickly tempered by a runner from Anderson and a poor shot by Crosgile that makes assistant coach Geoff Arnold drop his head in his hands. The St. Joe’s deficit is still nine.

8:19- Or is it? Crosgile hits a three a three from the wing, his first points of the night. Coming into tonight, he was in a stretch where he had at least two made three-pointers in five of the last six games, and shot over 50 percent (13-25) during that time. Tonight, it cuts the lead to nine, 49-40, with 11:08 left to play.

8:17- Todd O’Brien picks up his third foul with 12:15 left, bringing Irwin in for him.

That boring update gives me a chance to spice things up with an interesting fact: Richmond has led each game it has played this year by at least six points. Guess it lends credence to the theory that every team gets its run, but that doesn’t look like the case for the Hawks tonight.

8:15- Hilliard has at least stepped up his game, with an old-fashioned three-point play to cut the gap, but Francis-Cedric Martel answers with a long-distance three to keep the lead at 12. Hilliard now has eight points.

8:13- Nivins may help, but it’s not going to stop the 29-footer Gonzalves just threw in. He’s got 15, and the lead is up to 13.

8:11- By the way, we’ve got a special guest in the stands tonight, sitting just behind the bench he graced for the last four years. Sorry, it’s not Arvydas Lidzius, but Ahmad Nivins. He’s back in the states to rehab a knee injury that has kept him out of action with Basquet Manresa in Spain. Someone in the Hagan Arena has to be seeing if he’s gots any eligibility left, even with just one leg.

8:08- Say what you will about Govens’ hot start to the game, but he now has six turnovers in 19 minutes. SIX. It’s one of the main reasons why St. Joe’s is down 10, 42-32, at the first media timeout in the second half.

8:07- Anderson cuts around and through the Hawks’ defensive efforts to find Garrett under the basket for a flush. He has four assists now, and the lead is up to 12, it’s highest point tonight, at 42-30 with 17:20 left.

8:05- Don’t want to harp on the Spiders’ defense, but it is one of the hallmarks of their success. They don’t have the most explosive offense, but they can get it done on the defensive end. They’re allowing an average of just 60.5 points per game, the third lowest total in the A-10. They also lead the league in steals (8.5) and turnover margin (+3.9), and are second in blocks (5.2) per game. The feather in their cap this year was holding then No. 13 ranked Florida to just 53 points, the lowest total for a Billy Donovan team in his 16 years at the school.

8:01- All the starters are out to open the second half. Hilliard starts things out with a lay-in, his first field goal of the night. He came in having scored in double-figures in each of his last six games. But Darius Garrett answers with a jumper to bring the margin back to nine.

7:58- The Hawks’ pace certainly slowed toward the end of the half thanks to Richmond’s stifling defense. They held St. Joe’s to just 35.7 percent shooting, and turned them over nine times, including five steals (four from Ryan Butler) and six blocks. Butler led them in scoring with 13, including 5-5 from the field and 3-3 from deep, while the Spiders as a team shot 15-28 (53.6 percent) from the field. David Gonzalvez started slow, but ended up with 10 points to go along with five rebounds. Kevin Anderson has been kept in check, at least for him, with just four. Dan Geriot had four after being relegated to the bench to start tonight.

Darrin Govens and Carl Jones each have nine to lead the Hawks, while Todd O’Brien has four. Garrett Williamson has four assists, the only four the Hawks had in the half. They held a rare rebounding margin, with a 17-16 edge.

Things are going to have to change quickly on offense if St. Joe’s want to mount a serious charge to get back into this game…

7:47- The Hawks end the half with another bad possession that ends with a heave from Williamson from about 30 feet. The Spiders end the half on a 19-4 run thanks to a stagnant offense from St. Joe’s that can muster just two buckets in the last 10 minutes. It’s 36-27 Richmond at the half; stats in a bit.

7:45- Jones gets a lay-up in transition, but Gonzalvez answers with a nifty up and under lay-in to put Richmond up nine with 40 ticks left.

7:39- The Richmond defense we talked so much about has stiffened now, and the Hawks have had one shot-clock violation and several other forced shots or turnovers late in the clock; this defense is third in the A-10 for a reason and they’re showing it with tough on-ball pressure and a couple big blocks.

7:33- It took him a little while to get started, but now Gonzalez has eight points to go along with four from Anderson. Richmond now up 28-27.

7:30- Anderson drill a 20-footer over Irwin, and Gonzalez picks up his first points of the game to knot the game up at 23 with just over eight minutes to play.

7:28- Anderson gets his first points of the game with an unmolested drive to the hoop. He cut the lead to four with 10:09 left to play.

7:26- Jones hits two of three free throws, and comes back two trips later with a three in transition to put the Hawks up 23-17; Jones has five.

7:24- Carl Jones gets fouled on a three-point attempt, and will head to the line on the other side of the media timeout with the Hawks up 18-17 and 11:08 left.

7:20- That hot streak might be over as Govens chucks up an airball. Hawks still up four.

7:18- Govens banks in a big three from the right wing. Hawks are up 14-10; Govens has nine.

7:15- We’re a little late to the action thanks to a class running overtime, but here’s what we’ve got so far. The game is surprisingly high-scoring and tied at 10 at the under-16 timeout. Butler has eight points for Richmond, while Govens leads the way with six for the Hawks.

Not a huge shock from Butler, who isn’t the big name at just under eight points per game, but he did have a career-high five threes against St. Joe’s two years ago. Deja vu all over again?

6:30- We’re in the stretch drive of the season now, with just nine games left before the A-10 Tournament. The Spiders are hot as winners of four of their last five games, including a 62-36 pasting of St. Louis on the weekend. They will be especially keen to avoid a slip-up against the Hawks tonight with a visit from Temple and a trip to Richmond in the offing.

Whatever the Spiders’ plan of attack will be, chances are it will go through the all-conference backcourt tandem of Kevin Anderson and David Gonzalvez. The junior Anderson has justified his preseason All-Atlantic 10 First Team billing, averaging 17.5 points in 17 minutes per game, the third-highest total in each category in the conference. Gonzalvez hasn’t been far behind, averaging 12.9 points per game. His scoring numbers are down from the 16.0 ppg he averaged last year, as are his shooting numbers across the board, but he is on pace for career-high assist and career-low turnover totals.

The Spiders aren’t the deepest team, only rolling out eight players who log more than 10 minutes a game. But their starters all average over seven points per. Justin Harper is the team’s leading rebounder at 5.7 per game to go along with 10.9 points. Center Dan Geriot’s scoring numbers are down from two years ago after sitting out due to injury all of last season, but he has still been a consistent contributor at 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. The fifth starter, Ryan Butler, is also averaging seven and a half points per game

For the Hawks, it’s been a frustrating stretch to emphasize a frustrating year. They have lost two straight after a brief three-game winning spurt, and are just a handful of possessions away from being 6-0. Late-game mistakes cost them against Duquesne last time out, as they did against St. Bonaventure.

The Hawks are coming off another failed opportunity for an elusive road win in conference after their three-point loss at Duquesne. They overcame and eight-point halftime deficit to tie the game late. But Bryant Irwin was called for a traveling violation with 7.6 seconds left with the Hawks down two, and Carl Jones missed a desperation three that would have sent it to overtime in the dying seconds to ensure the Dukes escaped with the win.

Four Hawks were in double-figures against Duquesne, led by a career-high 17 from Justin Crosgile. Darrin Govens also produced an all-too-infrequent strong performance with 17 points of his own, while Idris Hilliard (14) and Todd O’Brien (12) rounded out the big performers for St. Joe’s. Hilliard’s career-high 14 rebounds gave him his first double-double of the season.

That balance, along with more production from Garrett Williamson (just five points and five fouls in 29 minutes against Duquesne) is what the Hawks will need to claim their second major upset of the conference season.

Look for the Hawks to try and push the tempo on Richmond and their strong half-court offense. When the Hawks do find themselves in the half-court, expect a lot of zone looks, something that was very successful against Dayton and that they worked on a lot before Duquesne. St. Joe’s, however, is 0-2 when being held under 60 points, and 1-10 when their opponents score over 70. Both of those may happen tonight, and look for Richmond to escape Philly with something like a 67-59 win.

4:30- Welcome to the Hagan Arena for tonight’s men’s basketball game between the Saint Joseph’s Hawks (8-13, 2-5 A-10) and the Richmond Spiders (16-6, 5-2 A-10).

We’ll have all the action for you live right here starting about a half hour before tip-off. Stay tuned!!

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