Photo courtesy of George Mason Athletics
Are the Hawks…Good?
Saint Joseph’s (10-11, 4-5) was coming off a heartbreaking loss at George Washington on Wednesday night. They made the short trip to Fairfax to face George Mason. Billy Lange was looking for his first career win against the Patriots after having an 0-6 record since taking the job. SJU and George Mason traded leads for most of the game, but the Hawks were able to pull it out despite a poor shooting day from three-point range and missing crucial free throws down the stretch.
The Hawks were led by their star guard Erik Reynolds II who finished with a game-high 30 points including five three pointers. Reynolds was aggressive early in the first half and continued getting to the foul line where he shot 7-10. Reynolds’ biggest bucket came with 2:22 left in the game and the Hawks trailing by two points. Reynolds set a screen for Lynn Greer at the top of the key, and popped outside and knock down the three to give the Saint Joe’s a two point lead. The Hawks would never trail after that clutch three from the sophomore. Senior guard, Cameron Brown, struggled on the offensive end for the second straight game, but Lynn Greer continued his stellar play to bail out the Hawks. Once again, Greer got to the basket with little restraint adding 18 points (8-14, 1-2 3pt) and pulled down 11 rebounds for the second consecutive game. This performance helped award Greer Co-Player of the Week honors in the A10. The sophomore averaged 24.5 ppg, 11 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting over 58% from the field. The Hawks now have two A10 POTW winners in as many weeks. Ejike Obinna continued his solid play as of late by adding in 15 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out late in the second half. Josh Oduro crushed the Hawks especially in the second half. The senior had a team-high 17 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists. Oduro was subbed out halfway through the second half after rolling his ankle. While he was out, George Mason chipped into the Hawks’ lead. After returning, the offense for the Patriots ran through him. Oduro assisted on a few made threes as the Patriots came all the way back after trailing by as many as nine points. With the Hawks leading by two with just 10 seconds to play, George Mason head coach Kim English called a timeout. It was clear the Patriots were trying to draw a play for their star player, Josh Oduro. English drew up a great play for Oduro to roll to the rim for an easy layup. Ronald Polite had Oduro wide open but did not put enough air under his pass as it was intercepted by Lynn Greer. Greer was fouled after the steal and went to the line to shoot two free throws and essentially end the game. Greer had been nearly flawless all game but missed both free throws. The Patriots got a great look from Polite for an open three in the corner with four seconds left, but he was not able to knock it down. Greer secured the rebound and got fouled again with three seconds left. Greer missed the front-end before knocking down the second. George Mason’s full-court heave came up short as the Hawks withstood their challenges at the foul line and walked out with a 79-76 win in Fairfax.
— SJU Hawks MBB (@SJUHawks_MBB) January 29, 2023
I was curious to see how the Hawks would respond Sunday afternoon after a heartbreaking loss last week at GW. I mentioned in my last article that I didn’t believe Sunday’s game was a “must win”, but it certainly was important to play a clean game ahead of their next four (winnable) games. SJU now sits at 4-5 in the conference and have won four of their last five games. It looks like Saint Joe’s is finding ways to win games even when their shooting is not there. The Hawks got a win on the road against a respectable A10 team despite shooting 29% from three (6-21) and shooting 63% from the foul line (17-27). I think SJU is starting to find themselves, but it is clear in this league that ANYTHING can happen. According to KenPom, Saint Joseph’s is predicted to win three of the next four with a 50/50 shot of winning at Loyola Chicago on February 8th. The main goal for the Hawks should be to obtain the 9 seed in the A10 tournament. If they obtain a top-9 seed, they will guarantee themselves a first-round bye. It is obviously a tall task, but this team has showed, especially of late, that they can play with the top of the A10. You are always going to have a chance in an A10 game with a scorer like Erik Reynolds II, but if Cam Brown can get back on track and Greer continues his stellar play, the Hawks will be a tough out in Brooklyn. Saint Joseph’s hosts Rhode Island on Wednesday night at Hagan Arena and will have a good chance of getting to .500 in the conference.