St. Joe’s vs. Rhode Island LIVE game blog

10:29- That’s all for tonight as I brave the wilds of New England on the way home. Thanks for tuning in all, game story’s above. This is Matthew De George, signing out on his final St. Joe’s men’s basketball game. Have a good night

8:58- Crosgile misfires on a three, and the Rams run out the clock with an 87-76 win. Postgame recap and coverage in a bit…

8:57- Cothran hits one of two from the line, but Ulmer again cleans up the mess, earning a trip to the line. Cothran leads the Rams with 15 points tonight, all in the second half. Ulmer hits both, and the Rams are up 87-76 with 23 ticks left.

8:56- Govens lays up and in, and Prescott, in for Williamson, fouls Marquis Jones, who misses both.  Crosgile lays the ball in to cut the lead back down to eight, 84-76.

8:53- Hilliard commits his fourth foul on James, who makes one, but Govens turns the ball over, and Williamson picks up his fifth foul of the game, ending his college career. He finishes with eight points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists.

Ulmer misses one of two, and were it not for his put back earlier, this finish could be much different. The Rams are just 14-22 from the line, and have at least five of those misses down the stretch.

For more play-by-play, keep reading here…8:51- Govens misfires, and though Mejia only converts one of two, the Hawks turn it over again. Mejia makes both this time, and though Carl Jones hits a lay-in and Martelli calls his final timeout, his team trails 82-72, with 53.7 seconds left.

8:49- But the Hawks only get Williamson’s third personal foul on Marquis Jones. He misses both, but Ulmer grabs the offensive rebound and puts it back for his 1,000th career point and that magical point number 80, to push the lead to nine.

8:48- But Govens hits a running three to tantalize the folks into watching a little longer. He has 25 points in a what may be his last game as a Hawk. Martelli calls his fourth timeout with 1:24 left and the score at 77-70. They need  a steal here….

8:47- James decisively rejects Carl Jones’ jumper attempt, sending Marquis Jones to the line courtesy of Williamson. He makes both; lead now 77-67 with a minute and a half left.

8:45- The intrigue is compounded by a travel from Ulmer, followed by a foul by Outerbridge, URI’s sixth. Williamson inbounds from the right side, and the ball eventually ends up in his hands on a drive to the basket ending in a mugging that isn’t call. Cothran then drives the other side of the court, and earns a trip to the line with about 43 percent of the contact. Horrible day for the officials today; just no consistency. Cothran nails both to stretch the lead back to eight.

8:43- Crosgile hits a three from the right corner to keep this game interesting and keep the viewers tuned in. Martelli calls a timeout with his team down now only six, 73-67, with 2:23 to play. We’re in for an intriguing finish perhaps.

8:42- The Hawks go small now, with Hilliard in the middle and Govens, Williamson, Crosgile, and Jones in the backcourt. Crosgile misses a three but Williamson wrestles the rebound away from a Ram only for Jones to follow with a miss of his own. Hilliard then commits a foul, sending Marquis Jones to the line to miss the front end of a 0ne-and-0ne.

8:41- Everyone leaves Marquis Jones on the perimeter, and he hits a massive three, his second of the game, to extend the lead to nine, 73-64. Baron calls a timeout with 3:14 left, and his team up nine. About that window…

8:38- Outerbridge answers by rediscovering the lost art of the mid-range jumper, and Govens misses everything with a jumper of his own. O’Brien goes over the back needlessly on the rebound, giving the Rams the ball on the other side of the final media timeout, already up 70-64 with 3:40 to play.

8:37- But Govens makes sure this possession is full, stuffing Mejia’s three-point attempt and converting an old-fashioned three-point play of his own on the fast back. Hawks back within four, with just over four to play.

8:37- Another empty possession by the Hawks, as a pass by Jones bounds out of play. That’s three in a row, and hardly the way to stage an upset.

8:35- Govens can’t answer with a three over a defender, and but an O’Brien rejection of the diminutive Mejia salvages the defensive possession.

8:34- Jones, amid chants of “Carl” from the URI fans, hits one of two to cut the lead to four. But Cothran buries an open look from three much to Martelli’s chagrin to extend the margin to seven.

8:31- Martelli’s looking for a technical foul after a bad out of bounds call, but Williamson denies Cothran’s drive to the hoop, so we’ll call it even. Govens misses a la-up, but the Hawks retain possession until O’Brien fails to corral a pass from Williamson. Mejia fails to make them pay with a  missed jumper from the elbow, before Carl Jones cuts  a fearless drive to the basket to earn a trip to the line.

8:29- Updating you on the other A-10 scores, St. Bonaventure has opened up a 15-point margin, 59-45, on Duquesne. Dayton is still struggling a bit with GW, up only six, 48-42, while Charlotte has surged back in front of UMass, 51-47.

8:27– Govens splits a pair of defenders and finds O’Brien with a bounce pass that the big man is finally able to finish with, but Richmond responds with a three after a bad switch by Carl Jones. He atones with a knifing drive to the lane for a bucket to push the lead back to five, 65-60. Hilliard commits a foul on the floor ahead of the under-eight media timeout, URI up 65-60, with 7:26 left to play.

8:25- Govens misses a long three near the end of the shot clock, and Richmond finds James in transition for a three to push the lead to six, 62-56, with 8:38 left in the game. Martelli calls a timeout to talk things over and diagram an offensive play here. Oh man, you have to wonder if the window of opportunity was just slammed shut on St. Joe’s hands by James with that trifecta.

8:24- Govens misses a three to knot things up, but lays it in the next time down the court to cut the lead to one yet again. Meijia answers though with a jumper from the elbow. It’s back up to three, 59-56 just over halfway through this second half.

8:22- GOVENS HITS RICHMOND WITH A STUTTER STEP AND NAILS A THREE TO CUT IT TO ONE!! Richmond answers with a deuce of his own, but the Hawks are still within three.

8:20- Williamson makes one of two to cut the lead to four. The Hawks are showing a 2-2-1 press of their own, which leads to a 10-second violation on the Rams. Big possession here….

8:19- By the way, there’s nice turnout of about 25-30 SJU fans sitting behind the Hawks’ bench and smatterings of red elsewhere in the stands. That’s a long trip (longer than my trek from upstate NY, for sure).

8:18- But Cothran has a response, his first triple of the game, and the lead boomerangs back out to five. He picks up his third foul though on the ensuing possession, bringing on the media timeout with URI leading 55-50 with 11:40 to play in one team’s season.

8:16– Hilliard hits a turnaround J, but an offensive rebound again finds Martell’s hands and he earns a trip to the line courtesy of Baptiste’s second foul. Martell hits back iron on both, and Jones answers with a three on the run to CUT THE LEAD TO 2, 52-50.

8:15- Baptiste converts a mid-range jumper to cut the lead to 50-45, but Martell answers with an offensive board that eventually turns into a lay-in. The Rams have been much better on the boards than the Hawks so far, as the second-chance points show.

8:12- Govens nails a three straight out of the timeout, but Ulmer answers with a put back on an failed alley-oop that still went in. The Rams’ press almost creates another turnover, but the ball goes off a URI player and out of bounds. Hilliard can’t convert though, missing a turn around hook badly.

8:11- One of the other story lines to watch tonight is the heat of Rhode Island head coach Jim Baron’s seat. Two “Fire Jim Baron” groups have been started on Facebook totaling 154 members between them. A loss here assures they miss out on the NCAA Tournament, and may mean the three-time A-10 Coach of the Year’s nine-year stint on campus comes to a close.

8:10- Cothran takes a drive right at Baptiste and finishes to stretch the margin to eight. The Hawks have the ball, after an tipped pass flies out of bounds, on the other side of the first media timeout of the second half, Hawks down 48-40 with 15:59 left.

8:08- O’Brien stays in with his third foul, but gets taken out on the ensuing offensive possession when he gets stuffed at the rim by Martell for the third time tonight. Williamson shows him how it’s done with an up-and-under lay-in to cut it to a four-point spread.

8:06- But Marquis Jones answers with a wide open three, and a turnover on the inbounds eventually leads to two St. Joe’s fouls and two Cothran free throws. Govens answers with a reverse lay-in, but O’Brien hacks James, who converts two from the line, to stretch the lead to 44-38 with 17:48 left.

8:04– Govens comes up with a steal, and Williamson gets hacked on a 3-1 by James on a late call. He hits both, and the Hawks are within one, 37-36, with 19 to play. That’s a 7-0 minirun by the Hawks.

8:03- Hawks have the ball to start the second half; both teams’ starters, including Cothran are out there. Govens has an early three go three-quarters of the way down and out, but Crosgile lays-in a nice finger-roll to cut the lead to three, 37-34.

8:01- Elsewhere in the A-10’s opening round, with all games at the half, St. Bonaventure is up 34-30 against Duquesne, Dayton leads George Washington 37-33, and UMass is bidding for an upset at Charlotte, leading 31-29.

7:58- Just a reminder, the Rams did all that damage without anything from Keith Cothran (0 points, one rebound, two fouls and three turnovers in five minutes). Their All A-10 guard has traditionally struggled against the Hawks, scoring only two points against them last time they met (though his services were hardly needed that night) and averaging only 8.3 points per game in three meetings with the Hawks.

7:55- The Hawks are sticking tight in this game, and the longer they’re around, the more they might start to believe. Darrin Govens leads the Hawks, and all scorers, with nine points, but on only 3-8 shooting and 1-4 from three-point range. Idris Hilliard has eight on 4-4 shooting despite four turnovers, and Carl Jones has seven off the bench. Justin Crosgile and Garrett Williamson each have three points at the break. The Hawks are shooting a respectable 12-17 (44.4 percent) from the field, and 3-10 from three-point land. They have missed only two free throws in seven attempts, but both were the front ends of one-and-ones.

Lamonte Ulmer and Will Martell each have six points to lead the Rams. Delroy James also has five, and Orion Outerbridge, Jamal Wilson, and Ben Eaves, all off the bench, have five each. They’ve turned the Hawks over nine times, a high number for a Hawks’ team that only coughed the ball up four time the ENTIRE game against La Salle. The Rams are 16-34 (47.1 percent) from the field, and 4-15 (26.7 percent) from three-point range. They own a 19-16 edge in rebounding, including a 7-5 advantage on the offensive glass. They are also leading the Hawks 14-2 in second chance points and 16-8 in points in the paint.

7:46- Govens picks a fine time to make his first three of the half, tickling the twine with just under four seconds left in the half. The Rams can’t get a shot off, and the Hawks head into the break down just five, 37-32. Halftime stats in a few.

For more first half action and previews, follow here….

7:43- Carl Jones gets called for a charge under the basket (the second offensive foul on the Hawks that shouldn’t have been called to go along with one that wasn’t that should have been.) Hilliard hits a lay-in the next time down after a URI basket, and Martell answers the next time on a goaltending by Baptiste. The Rams are now up eight, 37-29, with 23.9 seconds to play in a first half that has flown by. Martelli takes a timeout to discuss his final possession, their first of the game.

7:42- Hilliard nails a mid-range J from the right wing this time, but Eaves answers in kind to keep it a six-point game. Wilson then picks up his second foul to send Govens to the line for a one-and-one, the front end of which he misses. Game still at six.

7:38- A Crosgile steal sets up a Williamson drive to the net that should have resulted in a foul, but the no call leads to a bucket by Outerbridge and a miscommunication sends Williamson’s inbounds pass sailing out of bounds. URI has the ball on the other side of the final media timeout of the half, up 31-25 with 3:16 to play.

7:36- The Hawks miss a few shots after a scramble under the basket that results in O’Brien’s second foul, bringing in Baptiste. Wilson hits a three on the second attempt of the trip, but Hilliard nails an 18-footer to keep the game within four, 29-25 with four to play.

7:33– The URI press finally bears fruit with a steal that turns into a jumper by Jamal Wilson. In due course though, he fouls Carl Jones on the ensuing inbounds, but Carl Jones misses the front end of a one-and-one. The Hawks are in the bonus with six minutes left in the half, but the Rams lead 26-23.

7:30– Eaves hits a three, which a guy wearing a red shirt with “Irwin” written on the back (I don’t recognize him) misses his attempt to equalize. Govens makes a lay-up in transition around two missed three-point attempts by the Rams. A travel by a bemused Outerbridge sends us to the under-eight media timeout. The Hawks are hanging tough, down just 24-23 with 6:32 left.

7:27- Carl Jones hits another one, a jumper from about eight, and gets fouled by Stevie Mejia on the ensuing possession set up by a turnover caused by Prescott. He makes three to tie the game at 21 with 8:10 left. He’s got seven points already. Govens and Crosgile return for Williamson (quite a rare breather) and Prescott.

7:26- Carl Jones hits a lay-in in traffic to cut the lead to 19-16, and after a turnover by the Rams, the Hawks turn it over themselves, setting up a flush by Ulmer. URI up 21-16 with 8:34 left.

7:25– Baptiste makes a nice jumper from four feet out, but fouls Orion Outerbridge for a three-point play, which he converts. O’Brien comes back in along with Bryant Irwin for Hilliard and Chris Prescott for Govens.

7:24- That’s four for Ulmer, who hits a fadeaway over Prescott to put the Rams up four. Hilliard turns the ball over again; it’s the second time he’s put the ball on the floor isolated on a wing, and second time he’s coughed it up (one travel, one endline.)

7:22- An interesting milestone watch tonight: Lamonte Ulmer will surpass the 1,000 point mark with his 12th point. He also needs two blocks to raise his career total to 100. If he can attain those marks, he will become only the second player in URI history along with Antonio Reynolds-Dean to have at least 1,000 points, 600 rebounds, 100 assists, 100 steals, and 100 blocked shots. He’ll also be the 49th Ram to join the school’s 1,000 point club; Cothran (1,203 points) became the 48th on Jan. 10 against Temple. He already has at least one block and two points.

7:20– Jones misses a home run pass to Govens, sending us to the under 12 media timeout with the Rams up 14-12 with 11:10 to play.

7:19– Ulmer has a putback off a nice block from Baptiste, and Jones get whistled for a charge on the other end. URI up 14-12 in a frantically-paced game. Both teams are playing like their hair is on fire.

7:17– Richmond nails a three to tie things up at 12, while an unpopular loose-ball foul is called on Martell. Carl Baptiste and Carl Jones enter, and the Hawks celebrate with a Hilliard travel.

7:16– Great sequence for Todd O’Brien there. He fouls Martell in the late, abandons the lane on the ensuing out-of-bounds play giving Martell an easy lay-up, gets stuffed on two, count ’em TWO, lay-up attempts, and then misses a box out leading to a foul by Williamson. Nice.

7:14– COTHRAN PICKS UP HIS SECOND FOUL! With just over five minutes played, Cothran hacks Govens on the way to the rim for an uncontested lay-up and sits in favor of Akeem Richmond. Govens makes both; Hawks up 12-7.

7:13– Crosgile nails a three out of the Rams fullcourt press; that’s now a 10-0 run for the Hawks, that is cut short by a long jumper by Keith Cothran to make it 10-7.

7:11– The Hawks are varying their defensive looks so far, with some 2-3 zone and some man-t0-man (and some in between). URI looks like they want to attack the defense before it can get set, especially off a turnover or missed shot by St. Joe’s. They’ve already hoisted four three-pointers, connecting on one. St. Joe’s has attempted three, making one. URI also has been contesting shots well, with two blocks.

7:09– Crosgile throws up an airball from the top of the key much to the delight of a sparsely populated Ryan Center crowd. The Hawks have stops the next two times down (on a turover by Martell and a Cothran player-control foul) and Williamson nails a three from the top of the key to give the Hawks a 7-5 lead with 15:49 left. It stays that way into the first media timeout 15 seconds later.

7:07– Williamson posts up Cothran and Govens puts back the miss for the Hawks first points of the game. The turn the Rams over, and Govens misses another three. James misfires on the other end, and Hilliard hits a 16-footer to make it 5-4 with 17:40 left to play.

7:05– James opens with a putback on a missed three by Cothran, then fouls Govens in a fullcourt press. Govens misses a three, but James hits one on the other end. Quick 5-0 lead for URI.

7:00– The national anthem is finished (solo acoustic guitar is good, but not exactly a pump up song; thankfully, Kevin Rudolf has his back).

Starting lineups now. Big Will Martell, the 7-footer from Fair Haven, NJ, anchors the frontline along with All Atlantic 10 Third Team honoree Delroy James and Lamonte Ulmer. Senior Keith Cothran, who was also recognized as All A-10 Third Team, leads the backcourt along with Marquis Jones (from the same high school, St. Thomas More Prep, that produced the illustrious Edwin Lashley). A-10 All Rookie Team member Akeem Richmond will also see a lot of time off the bench. Martell, a Finance major, has a 3.43 GPA and is also a member of the Atlantic 10’s All-Academic team.

St. Joe’s goes with their usual starting five, led by the senior backcourt tandem of Darrin Govens and Garrett Williamson. They’re getting hot at the right time, as Govens has scored in double-figures each of his last four games, while Williamson has registered at least 10 points in each of his last eight. Justin Crosgile occupies the other spot in the backcourt. Idris Hilliard (who is averaging 15 points in his last two games) and center Todd O’Brien round out the Hawks’ starting five.

6:55– URI officially wins the award for Best Unintentionally Awkward Naming in the Atlantic 10, and possibly the nation. Not only are their cheerleaders named the “Ramettes” (this one was brought to my attention, so don’t blame me), one of their primary sponsors is Cox Sports, who sponsor the “Cox Ball Boys”. Somewhere, Sigmund Freud is smiling and taking morphine.

6:48Prediction time: It’s pretty simple with the Rams: if they score more than 80 points, they win. They’ve topped the 80-point mark on 13 occasions and are 12-1 in those games; they’re 32-7 in games in which they score over 80 points dating back to last year. But the Rams have only reached the 80-point mark twice in their last seven games, their only two wins over that span. St. Joe’s has scored 80 points or more in only six games this season and are 4-3 in those games (losses to UMass, Holy Cross, and Villanova).

This game is going to be closer than the last time these two teams met, for sure. But an upset? I just don’t see that in the cards. It should be one of those classic St. Joe’s games where they stay in touch throughout but you never really get a sense of them chipping away or mounting a serious push (the Tourney game against Oklahoma in 2008 and the Nova game this year come to mind immediately). Martelli may try to slow things down a little, pushing for easy shots when they can get them, but elongating some possessions if they can’t to try and minimize URI’s trips down the court. The zone may slow the Rams down a little, but they’ve got offensive talent that far surpasses La Salle’s and George Washington’s. The Hawks are 23-13 over their last four Marches, including 2-0 so far this season, but I don’t expect that winning streak to continue tonight. The Rams will get to their 80-point plateau and St. Joe’s won’t; I’m thinking something around 85-73 (with some late free throws embellishing the score line a bit).

6:40– As a quick aside at the risk of journalistic neutrality, tonight’s game may be the the last for this journalist after four years as a sportswriter and two and a half as a sports editor. Why else would I be in Kingston, RI during spring break>

6:35– Rhode Island is still out one the court warming up while St. Joe’s left the court about 15 minutes ago and are just now appearing for the second part of their hard warmup. I have to say the Hawks look pretty loose out there during lay-up lines and shootaround. The Rams look a little tight, as well they should be with the higher stakes on their shoulders. It’s all gravy now for the Hawks, and a team with nothing to lose who are hot and pissed off to boot could be dangerous.

6:10–  Pasting though it was, many of St. Joe’s players credited the game against URI as being a major turning point to their season for the better. They had only narrowly broken their month and a half long losing streak at home against Fordham without playing particularly well, and the beat down by the Rams seemed to send a message to this team about their sub-par performance. That message was well-received, as the Hawks responded with a game they should have won at St. Bonaventure and three straight wins, including the upset of Dayton. They also had a string of better showings even in losing efforts against the likes of Duquesne, UMass, and Richmond. The resurgence of Garrett Williamson was clear after his last trip to the Island State, something he referenced after the Dayton game as the wake up call of him and his teammates.

One of the hallmarks of St. Joe’s late-season resurgence has been their increasing comfort playing a zone defense, which may be employed again tonight by Phil Martelli to nullify some of the Rams’ height advantage and to show down an offense that ranks second in the A-10 and 35th in the nation in scoring offense at 77.1 points per game. At home though, they’re even more efficient, averaging 82.6 ppg.

The zone may also help induce mistakes in an otherwise rock steady backcourt. Point guards Marquis Jones and Stevie Mejia both rank in the top 15 nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.8:1 and 2.74:1, respectively. Their combined mark in A-10 play this season is a startling 3.11:1. The Rams are averaging just 11.4 turnovers per game the 24th lowest total in the nation and are fifth in the nation with a turnover margin of + 4.6. They are also very strong on the defensive end, ranking 31st in the nation in both steals (8.4) and blocks (5.0) per game. Neither team is particularly adept at hitting the glass, with both sporting a negative rebounding margin, though URI’s margin is only -1.3, while St. Joe’s hovers over -8.

The Rams have had a decided home court advantage here at the Ryan Center since its opening in 2002. They are 12-2 here this year, and have won at least 11 games in this building each of the last three seasons. As far as the home crowd advantage, it might not be as overpowering as you might suspect. Rhode Island is in session this week, so student turnout shouldn’t be that bad, you would think. In the last meeting between these two teams, the attendance was under 5,000 (4,579) in an arena that seats 7,657. (For those of you who’ve never been here, which is probably most of the Western world, the Ryan Center is a top-notch facility that will never host the A-10 Tournament because it’s on a campus that’s in the middle of nowhere. I kid you not, the road that takes you up to campus has the Ryan Center and URI’s football stadium, both beautiful facilities, on one side and a field full of cows on the other. There’s nothing commercial within a five-mile radius, so I’ve taken to writing these notes in the parking lot of a Tim Horton’s just off I-95 some 10 miles away.)

1:30– A chance to play one more game was all the Hawks could have asked for at this point last week. They’ve got that chance tonight thanks to a strong finish to the season with wins in their last two games.

These two teams had a forgettable meeting for the Hawks in their last game, with the Rams destroying the Hawks 101-74 right here at the Ryan Center on Jan. 13. The Rams shot the lights out in the first half, pushing the lead as high at 31. They led 58-34 at the half with 61.1 percent shooting from the field and 9-16 from three-point range.

Delroy James had a season-high 24 points in just 21 minutes against the Hawks, as did Akeem Richmond with 21 points in only 14 minutes on the court. Despite only two points for Keith Cothran, the Rams still managed a season-high in points (equaled by their win against Fordham a month later). All 12 Rams who saw the court scored, and all but one recorded at least one field goal. They shot 53.6 percent for the game, including 12-30 (40 percent) from three-point range.

Darrin Govens led the Hawks with 15 points in the losing effort, while Garrett Williamson added 14. Charoy Bentley chipped in a career-high 10 off the bench for the Hawks, who managed a measly 4-19 shooting (21.1 percent) from beyond the arc.

They also authored a memorable game two years ago in Philadelphia for both team’s conference opener. St. Joe’s prevailed in a three-overtime thriller at the Palestra, after squandering a 17-point halftime lead, thanks to Ahmad Nivins’ 28 points and 20 rebounds in 54 minutes. Darrin Ovens added 21 points, Garrett Williamson had seven points and seven assists, and Idris Hilliard scored 13 points to go along with eight rebounds. Jimmy Baron led the way with 19 points for the Rams, while Kahiem Seawright added 17.

SJU leads the all-time series 52-38 dating back to their first meeting in the 1940-41 season. The Rams are 0-2 all-time against St. Joe’s in the A-10 Tournament. They last met in the 1997 Championship game, in which the Hawks, led by tournament MOP Rashid Bey, defeated the Tyson Wheeler-led Rams 61-56. Both teams earned berths to the NCAA Tournament this year. St. Joe’s also defeated the Rams 82-65 in the 1991 tournament. The Rams last won the tournament in 1999, while the Hawks 1997 to go along with wins in 1981, 1982, and 1986.

12:00- Good evening and welcome to the Thomas M. Ryan Center here in Kingston, Rhode Island for nights Atlantic 10 Tournament Opening Round game between the Saint Joseph’s Hawks (11-19, 5-11 A-10) and the Rhode Island Rams (21-8, 9-7 A-10). I’m Matthew De George, and I’ll be back in just a bit with a preview, lineups, and all the action live.

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