Brooklyn, N.Y. – Throughout Coach Billy Lange’s tenure the Hawk’s three point shot strategy has been a area of contention for Saint Joe’s fans. However, it was that very shot that helped the Saint Joe’s Hawks defeat the George Washington Colonials in tonight’s 87-76 win.
With a 72-69 lead, and only two minutes left in the game, Saint Joe’s was able to stack two three’s in a row, one from Senior Cameron Brown and the other from Freshman Rasheer Fleming, to grow the lead to six points. From there it was easy, SJU had to make free throws and not foul, and that’s exactly what they did as they walked away with a win. Impressive considering that this is the first time since the 5 round expansion that a ‘day-one’ team has advanced past day 2 of the A-10 tournament. Prior to today, ‘day-one’ teams were 0 and 15 in the second round of A-10 play.
Reynolds Has Arrived
While the two made three’s to seal the win were important, Saint Joe’s would not have been in this position if it wasn’t for Sophomore Guard Erik Reynolds II, who had a career high 34 points. Reynolds also tallied 6 rebounds, 4 assist, and one steal and block respectively. While his completion percentage was not amazing, it didn’t really matter, every single one of his baskets came at a time when Saint Joe’s needed it. When the call came, Reynolds responded, and he made sure to be a source of scoring when the rest of the team couldn’t find the bottom of the rim.
In addition to Reynolds, Rahseer Fleming, Cameron Brown and Lynn Greer III all scored in double digits for Saint Joe’s. In addition, all seven players for SJU, regardless of scoring, did what was required of them. They played hard defense, fought for every rebound, and never gave up, even when the game was slipping away.
The Colonial’s Final Act
For GW it was a hard fought loss. Heading into this game the Colonials were undefeated when James Bishop IV and Brendan Adams combined for over 40 points together. They also lost every game in which the were under 40 points combined. Tonight, the two scored 39 points in total, ultimately keeping the streak alive.
Guard James Bishop IV finished the game with 25 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists. Guard Brendan Adams finished with 14 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. From a team stand point, GW performed better than Saint Joe’s in rebounding, blocks, assists and free throws. However, they shot significantly worse from the field, which ultimately did them in.
What this means for the Hawks
In the end, Saint Joe’s won this game even with multiple obstacles in their way. First, they were without their starting center, Ejike Obinna, who is out for the season with an injury. Finally, they allowed GW to jump to a 19-8 lead to start this game. Being down 11 points in the first 10 minutes was dangerous situation, especially when you consider the potential fatigue of the team after SJU’s win against Loyola Chicago yesterday.
Saint Joe’s could have easily rolled over and went home, however, they didn’t. The Lange Gang found a way to come together and win when it mattered most, something SJU has been missing for a while now. As I have written before, it felt like after the last coaching change all the tacit knowledge of how to win games left the program. 50 years of the Saint Joe’s coaching tree, going all the way back to the final four appearance with Dr. Jack Ramsay, gone!
Yet, tonight, SJU put themselves on the road to recovering that knowledge. Saint Joe’s, an extremely young team, learned how to come back and win in a game that mattered. The type of win where a young team, who has been told all season they aren’t ready for the ‘big jump’, exceeds expectations and arrives on the scene. They never arrive when you expect it, but like most surprises, it couldn’t have occurred at a better time.
Saint Joe’s will play the Dayton Flyers tomorrow, Thursday March 9th. The game is set to air at 5:00pm EST on USA Network.