Phil Martelli and his grandson, Phillip, address the media. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)
BY RAY FLORIANI
Brooklyn, NY - Following Dayton’s noon dismantling of Richmond in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals, it was time for George Washington and Saint Joseph’s. Following an offensive explosion the first half by George Washington, the second half saw a complete reversal of fortunes. St. Joe’s prevailed, 86-80, to set up a semifinal meeting with Dayton on Saturday.
First Half: The first five possessions saw the Colonials with a 5-3 lead (17:21 remaining). Early on, it is evident coach Mike Lonergan is willing to shoot the three. The Colonials are 4-of-6 from downtown. The three-pointer helped build a nine-point lead at the eight-minute mark. Anthony Swan attempts a three that rims, hits the backboard, then drops in. Could the arc be the difference today? St. Joe’s is looking to penetrate. After getting whistled for a few charges, they adjust by pulling up in the lane. Offense is important, but the concern for the Hawks is not letting the percentages catch up with GW’s shooting.
Score: George Washington 49, Saint Joseph’s 35
Offensive efficiency: George Washington 136, Saint Joseph’s 104
- The Colonials shot an eFG percentage of .783. From three, they were 9-of-13, and five different players connected from three.
Second Half: The first five possessions culminated in 2:45, with the Hawks ‘winning’ 4-3, a slow offensive start by both clubs. George Washington was not shooting as well from three. It is not just the percentages catching up, as St. Joe’s is doing a better job locating and closing on shooters. Midway through the half, GW leads by just two. Phil Martelli’s group has not wavered from their offensive game plan while applying better defensive pressure. The Colonials have lost momentum at this point. James Demery’s three gives the Hawks a lead with just over six minutes to go. In essence, it is still anyone’s game, but the Colonials have more than the score to deal with. Saint Joseph’s is in an attack-the-basket mode. It’s a two possession game with two-and-a-half minutes to go. Demery strikes again, his putback and one putting the Hawks up by eight with a minute remaining. That basically was the ‘dagger.’
Final: Saint Joseph’s 86, George Washington 80
Offensive efficiency: Saint Joseph’s 127, George Washington 118
eFG%: Saint Joseph’s 62, George Washington 57
Free Throw Rate: Saint Joseph’s 54, George Washington 16
Offensive Rebound%: Saint Joseph’s 31, George Washington 31
Turnover Rate: Saint Joseph’s 15, George Washington 13
What Saint Joseph’s did well: Stick with their game plan. No panic down double digits most of the first half. The Hawks stuck with their offensive plan while imposing a defensive will on the Colonials in the final twenty minutes.
What George Washington did well: Shoot. The Colonials shot a 57 percent eFG percentage while knocking down fifteen three-pointers. “They doubled Kevin (Larsen) in the post, so we told our guys, share the ball,” George Washington coach Mike Lonergan said. “If you have the shot, take it.”
NOTES: The Hawks dominated the points in the paint, mostly through dribble penetration, 42-18. Sharing the wealth, George Washington had six in double figures, St. Joe’s five. The Colonials cooled off to a 38% eFG mark the final twenty minutes. Again, the percentages, but mostly the Hawks’ defense catching up with them. Kevin Larsen of George Washington paced all rebounders with 11. The Colonials assisted on 20 of their 29 field goals, committing just 10 turnovers. St. Joe’s had 10 assists against nine turnovers. The game had three ties and ten lead changes. The largest lead was 16, by the Colonials with 65 seconds left in the first half.
“Credit to GW for an unbelievable first half. If the other team beats the game plan by making shots, we shake their hands and go home. I didn’t mean shake their hands at halftime. Three stops to start the second half was big. Once we got a tie, (assistant coach) Mark Bass suggested we alter zones on makes and misses. That was really was effective for us. Credit kids like (GW’s Patricio) Garino, (Joe) McDonald and (Kevin) Larsen. They are tough kids and they are what the Atlantic 10 is all about.” - Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli
“Our fast breaking took away their momentum. Nice to have a crowd behind us. At the half we stayed confident, we said ‘whole other half.’” - Isaiah Miles
“We knew we could score, our offense would come around. We just had to do a better job of defending.”- DeAndre Bembry
“Four hundred (wins) never entered into my thought. Next week hasn’t entered. I just want to play tomorrow with my group. That was a heck of a comeback. I'm much more delighted about 25 (wins this season) and 1-0 in this tournament rather than 400. We look at the numbers, and not in a South Philadelphia illegal kind of way. The numbers indicated (Tyler) Cavanaugh and (Kevin) Larsen are their horses. We have (Joe) Lunardi across campus. I swear on the bible, I have not discussed this (NCAA Tournament) with him. Our focus is just on playing the next game and getting over the two-game losing streak. I know we are playing next week, maybe not in the tournament we worked for, but we are playing next week, so enjoy playing today.” - Martelli
“Great game, but a heartbreaking loss. I thought we lost it in the first four minutes of the second half. We turned the ball over and didn’t box out. Their quick guards took us to the rim. Shots wouldn’t fall the second half. We have to get tougher. We had a great season, but this was heartbreaking today. Losing Tyler Cavanaugh to fouls hurt us. He’s a good rebounder, and we had to go small. Give them credit, they went at him in foul trouble. The last 30 seconds of the first half and first four minutes of the second half hurt. I feel good about our NCAA chances if you look at our body of work. We lost to some good teams, and beat some as well.” - George Washington coach Mike Lonergan