It didn’t take long to see that this game was going to test Saint Joseph’s strength. The Hawks led by 10 early in the second half, but it never felt like they were putting Rhode Island away.
The Rams clawed their way back and took the lead with 8:49 remaining. St. Joseph’s (3-14, 0-5 A-10) offense and the people in Hagan Arena simultaneously went silent for more than seven minutes as the Hawks fell 71-61 to Rhode Island.
St. Joseph’s likes to launch threes, but the shooters didn’t have much success. Despite the struggles, the Hawks went into the half with a six-point lead after a Ryan Daly three right before the buzzer sounded.
Rhode Island (11-5, 3-1) increased its intensity on defense in the second half and went on a 19-3 run after St. Joe’s built a seven-point lead. The Hawks’ offense was never able to return to earlier form.
Daly led St. Joe’s with 21 points. He was the lone Hawk to score in double-figures.
The Hawks’ bench outscored the Rams 20-11. Rahmir Moore and Anthony Longpre led the bench with nine and eight points, respectively. Both players made big three’s in the second half to extend the St. Joe’s lead.
St. Joe’s shot 28.2% in the second half after shooting 46.7% in the first. Cameron Brown went 0-for-9 on threes and had several rim in-and-out. The Hawks finished the day 5-of-29 from three.
“A lot of times when you’re trying to grow a new team, offense affects defense,” St. Joseph’s coach Billy Lange said. “We got some wide open threes that you have to make against Rhode Island because they do a great job of collapsing in the paint.”
“I think in the first half, we had better pacing,” Daly said. “We had a lot of confidence. In the second half once [Fatts Russell] got confident, we kind of froze up. We were like statues out there.”
“Fatts made four incredible shots,” Lange said. “We did everything. He saw five or six different defenses tonight.”
Cameron Brown’s emergence on offense has helped Daly and Myles Douglas, but his defense is where he is making the biggest difference. Brown held Rhode Island’s leading scorer, Fatts Russell, to two points in the first half. Russell got hot in the second half and couldn’t miss, but Brown made him work for every basket. Russell finished with 25 points on 10-for-21 shooting.
This game highlighted the inconsistencies that have plagued the Hawks this season. Going scoreless for nearly eight minutes is nearly impossible to overcome. Daly said that the Hawks let their defensive struggles in the second half dictate their offense.