St. Joseph’s was in the holiday spirit during its Atlantic 10 Conference opener Wednesday as the Hawks gifted VCU a season-high 25 turnovers in an 80-64 loss at Hagan Arena.
Leading scorer and team leader Ryan Daly was missing due to injury, so Dahmir Bishop, Taylor Funk, and Cameron Brown tried to pick up the slack.
The Hawks jumped to a 10-point lead early in the first half, but turnovers and a scoring drought resulted in that lead disappearing, and VCU (8-2, 1-0 A-10) took control late in the half.
“They don’t let anybody run their half-court offense,” Hawks coach Billy Lange said of VCU. “You have to play in a conceptual-spaced gym.”
Bishop led the Hawks (0-6, 0-1 A-10) with a career-high 20 points. He did most of his work in the first half and outscored VCU, 13-12, by himself in the first eight minutes.
The Hawks led, 18-8, after Bishop drained a three-pointer for his 13th point. Three more points by Rahmir Moore gave St. Joe’s a 21-12 lead with 12 minutes, 13 seconds remaining. But that was the last time St. Joe’s scored until 4:56 remained in the first half after a Greg Foster free throw. By that point, VCU had made a 14-0 run and gained the lead.
“They stepped it up defensively,” Bishop said. “They were doing well trapping us and making us turn the ball over.”
St. Joe’s shot 38% from the field, while the Rams converted 46% of their shots. The Hawks have allowed 80 or more points in all six of their games.
Containing 2019 all-rookie pick Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland was a priority, and the Hawks did that. He went into the game averaging 18.2 points but was held to seven on 2-for-9 shooting. It was his lowest point total since a February game against St. Louis.
“[Hyland] is an absolute stud,” Lange said. “If you would have said to any of us that Bones Hyland would end up with zero assists and seven points on 2-for-9, and we lose 80-64, we probably wouldn’t have believed it.”
Daly’s absence was a major blow for the Hawks’ offense. He didn’t participate in warmups and had a cast on his left hand. During the TV broadcast, Daly’s injury was described as a left thumb injury he suffered during the Tennessee game. Lange said there is no update on his availability. So Foster and freshman Jordan Hall will be relied on even more as playmakers.
Hall came off the bench for the first time this season and had a career-high seven assists in 26 minutes. Funk had 10 points. Vince Williams had 17 points for VCU.
“We’ve got some things that we need to get better at, but we also need some consistency of time together,” Lange said.