Once again, Saint Joseph’s failed to put two quality halves together and lost to Butler after leading 40-35 after the first half. Butler opened their A-10 slate in style on the road after trailing for most of the contest.
Butler’s star guard Rotnei Clarke led both teams with 28 points on 21 shots. Chris Wilson led Saint Joseph’s with 15 points, all of which came in the first half. He inexplicably took zero shots in the second and sat out for large portions of the half in a baffling decision by Phil Martelli.
Early on, SJU lived and succeeded by the three but they would ultimately go cold and their lack of half-court cohesion eventually became obvious to the restless sellout crowd. After shooting over 50% in the first half, the Hawks finished at 36%. Saint Joseph’s shot 5-25 in the final 20 minutes of the game. It is a loss that will haunt SJU if they are ultimately left on the wrong side of the bubble. As SJU announcer Matt Martucci tweeted post-game, “I think there’s no other way to describe tonight except a missed opportunity….big time”.
Another telling quote came from Chris Wilson, “I definitely think coaching is what sets them on another level… That was the main thing I noticed, just how together and how well-coached they were”. It’s not anything many Saint Joseph’s faithful would necessarily disagree with after this frustrating season but it is telling coming from a key player.
A fast-paced game slowed to a lull in the second half for most everyone but Clarke who even appeared to forget how big he was in a tussle with 6’8″ Ron Roberts. Roberts finished with 12 points, 9 boards, and 4 blocks for the Hawks. His teammate CJ Aiken added 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
Saint Joseph’s now looks to travel to Duquesne on Saturday after the home letdown.