(Philadelphia, PA) The Saint Joseph’s Hawks are set to face off against the George Mason Patriots tonight at 7:00pm. Hosted at Hagan arena, the game will air on ESPN+ and will be the second matchup of the season between these two teams.
The first game, hosted in Fairfax, resulted in a 77-71 victory for George Mason. The Patriots were led by Junior Forward Josh Oduro, who finished the game with 31 points on 12 for 22 shooting. Oduro was unstoppable, having his way in the paint all game. In addition, Mason shot 5-22 from beyond three, but that didn’t matter as Oduro’s inside presence helped to keep the Patriots within striking distance.
For Saint Joe’s it was all about turnovers. The Hawks had 17 turnovers for the entire game, in contrast to Mason’s 4. Saint Joe’s was solid from outside, shooting 50% from three, but it wasn’t enough as the Hawks struggled to close that game out on the road.
Mason’s Key to the Games
In this second matchup Mason will look to continue exploiting Saint Joe’s interior defense. Oduro, an A10 POY candidate, had no problem scoring on Saint Joe’s Ejike Obinna and Charles Coleman last time, so why should this one be any different?
One area Mason will look to improve upon is their three point scoring. In the last matchup, Mason shot a dismal 22% from beyond three. If they can increase that percentage they could easily pull away from the Hawks. Thanks to Oduro’s consistent inside scoring, the addition of better three point shooting will only help to add to the margin between these two teams. If Mason can stick by Saint Joe’s shooting poorly from beyond, imagine what they can do if they slightly increase their outside scoring.
Finally, Mason will look to put pressure on Saint Joe’s shallow rotation. The shallow rotation of seven players has hurt the Hawks at the end of games as players, who have played upwards of 36 minutes, struggle to get separation to score. In addition, foul trouble also exploits SJU’s rotation. During the last game between SJU and Mason, Josh Oduro was able to put Ejike Obinna in early foul trouble, sending the big man to the bench in the first half. If Mason can put some Saint Joe’s players in foul trouble early, and shrink their pool of candidates for substitution, it may be a long day for the Hawks.
Saint Joe’s is Sliding
For Saint Joe’s the theme is turnovers. This issue has cursed the team all season. Saint Joe’s has averaged an astonishing 13.8 turnovers per game. In their last game against UMass, Saint Joe’s had 14 turnovers to the Minutemen’s 9. The Hawks are already playing a shallow rotation, which . Turning the ball over is a careless mistake that makes winning games that much harder for a team where winning isn’t an easy task. The fact is, they will struggle to win games if they give their opponents free possessions.
Saint Joe’s had a winnable stretch of games heading into this matchup. The stretch included Fordham, Davidson, UMass and Mason. Winning three of these four games was a lofty goal, but an obtainable one that would have put the Hawks back on the right track. Instead, Saint Joe’s is 1-2 heading into the final game of the stretch. To make matters worse they find themselves with a 10-13 record with only six games left in the season. If the Hawks have any hope to get back to .500 they will have to find wins against teams like Dayton, Saint Louis, and St. Bonaventure.
Tonight’s game is no different. A win against George Mason is critical for the team, and one they can not afford to let slip like so many before.