Peoria, IL – The Saint Joseph’s Hawks lost a close battle to the Bradley Braves, 77-73. After being tied at the half, 38-39, Saint Joe’s soon found themselves down 12 points on the road with only 9:00 minutes left of the clock.
However, the Hawks crawled back to within one point with only a minute left in the game. Saint Joe’s was able to get multiple looks with the final minute to go, but could not get one basket to fall. The first shot in this final sequence came from Jordan Hall who put up a three with 0:35. In that set, Both Brown and Hall missed the opportunity to pass to an open Funk in both corners. Instead, Jordan Hall had to settle for the three as the shot clock started to run low.
Luckily, Cameron Brown was able to grab an offensive rebound off the missed three with 0:32 left. Brown then found Funk open in the corner with no defender on him. However, Taylor Funk dribbled the ball out of the corner missing the chance to take an open three. This led Coach Lange to call a a timeout and regroup the team. After the timeout the Hawks went to Jordan Hall again who shot a step back jumper and missed. Cameron Brown then grabbed the rebound, making it his second offense rebound within the last minute.
Unfortunately, after Brown’s second rebound, the ball was then stolen. Instead of dribbling out of the paint to reset the offense, Brown attacked the lane after the rebound only to get the ball stripped. Bradley’s Terry Roberts stole the ball and passed it to a streaking Ja’Shon Henry who was subsequently fouled at the other end by Jordan Hall. Hall committed a hard foul in an attempt to stop the easy layup and force Henry to earn the points with free throws. However, this sent Henry flying to the floor. The refs reviewed the play and decided to call an intentional foul.
This foul resulted in three free throws for Bradley, and possession of the ball. Jayson Kent made both free throws. Bradley then got possession and sealed the game as they climbed to a 77-73 lead with only four seconds left in the game.
Saint Joe’s by the Stats
Saint Joe’s was plagued by fouls all game long. The foul differential was an astonishing 25-14 in favor of Bradley. In both the first and second half Bradley found itself well within the double bonus with substantial time left.
A few other stats that stood out for Saint Joe’s were the performances of Jordan Hall and Taylor Funk. Hall finished the game with only 10 points, however he also orchestrated the entire offense racking up a total of 12 assists on the game. Taylor Funk had a solid shooting night by shooting 4-9 from three and scoring 20 total points. Some of Funk’s threes came at critical points in the game. Helping the Hawks to stay within a manageable 10 points during the second half as Saint Joe’s worked to get the offense going after the break.
This brings us to the final, and most important, scoring stat of the game. Bradley started the second half on an 11-4 run, as Saint Joe’s looked lost coming out of the half. This continues to be a recurring theme for Saint Joe’s. Time and again the team comes out cold in the second half and gives up the lead to their opponents. It makes one wonder what is actually going on in the locker room during halftime. Saint Joe’s needs to kick this habit going forward. Too many times this year have the Hawks played a tough first half only to concede the gains made to the opposition at the start of the second half.
In conclusion, this was a tough loss, but not a season ending one. One positive is that Saint Joe’s went on the road and almost upset Bradley, who were considered favorites. All throughout the game it seemed that Saint Joe’s half court offense ran smoothly. With the eye test one could see that SJU had a much easier time of operating in the half court. Bradley could not stop Saint Joe’s ball screens, no matter how hard they tried. Funk, Reynolds and Obinna each made great plays in the half court to keep Saint Joe’s in the game..
Another positive takeaway was that the Hawks played a hard first half of basketball. At one point in the first half Saint Joe’s forced Bradley’s hand as the Braves switched to a 2-3 zone in an effort to stifle a 10-2 scoring run by the Hawks. Saint Joe’s forced Bradley, a good defensive team, to tip their the hand to the Hawks prior to halftime. They showed their last resort defense, allowing Saint Joe’s to go to the locker room and prep before the start of the second half. At the time I thought this was a blessing for Saint Joe’s, they knew what Bradley would do in the second half, and had time to make valuable adjustments in a tough road game.
However, the start of the second half didn’t fall their way. With a 8-4 foul differential, the Hawks found themselves down ten points on the road with Bradley in the bonus. Fouls and turnovers continue to be a problem for Saint Joe’s. Yet, the Hawks fought back to be within one with only a few seconds left.
This brings us to the issue of refs. Yes, the refs were questionable for the majority of the game, especially considering the late technical to Jordan Hall. However, you can not blame them for the loss. When it mattered Saint Joe’s was unable to seal the deal. You can’t blame the refs when you miss the opportunity to close out the game.
The Hawks will look to bounce back from this loss as they head home to Hagan to face the Holy Cross Crusaders this Wednesday. The game is scheduled to tip off at 6:00pm EST and will be aired on ESPN+.