The UMass Minutemen dismantled the Saint Joseph’s Hawks, 100-66,in the second round of the Atlantic 10 tournament. The win for UMass was due in large part to an outstanding shooting performance from every member of the starting rotation. In fact, UMass had all five of their starters score in double digits in Thursday’s game. On the other, this loss ended Saint Joe’s four game win streak, sending the Hawks into the offseason on a low note.
UMass Is Not Messing Around
This game was a non contest from the start. UMass jumped to a 35-13 lead at the 8:49 mark of the game. Once the lead was past 20 points UMass never looked back as they continued to run up the score on Saint Joe’s. UMass was lights out for the entire game. The Minutemen finished the game shooting 55% from the field and 39% from beyond three. The most impressive stat was that UMass shot 12-20 (60%) from beyond three for the first half. Their stellar shooting helped them grow their first half lead to an unprecedented amount.
In addition, UMass had double digit scoring contributions from every member of the starting roster. Forward Ronnie DeGray III led UMass in scoring and finished the game with 19 points, 4 rebounds and one assist. At the end of the first half DeGray had scored 13 points on 5-8 shooting. However, it would be unfair to say that DeGray was the sole reason UMass won. When you shoot 55% from the field, the way UMass did, it indicates the team was firing on all cylinders.
UMass will now advance to the third round of the A10 tournament. They are scheduled to play Saint Louis at 1:00pm EST on NBCSN.
Saint Joe’s Struggled
On the other side of the ball, Saint Joe’s could not seem to score a basketball no matter how hard they tried. Saint Joe’s shot 33% from the field and 29% from beyond three. While Saint Joe’s did shoot an effective 84% from the free throw line, that alone was not enough to keep up with a UMass team that simply could not miss. Another stat that stood out was that Saint Joseph’s was out rebounded by UMass, 30-47. UMass was just bigger, and stronger and had no problem grabbing rebounds against the Hawks.
However, it is worth noting that Freshman Jordan Hall did finish the game with a decent stat line. Hall ended the game with 18 points, 5 assists, and 6 rebounds. Unfortunately, while these stats are “nice”, they do not mean much in a loss this one sided.
In my opinion, the Hawks looked tired. As I had mentioned in my preview, UMass had only played two games since February 6th. Compare this to Saint Joe’s who was entering their fifth game since February 20th. UMass looked like a much fresher team compared to Saint Joe’s. The Minutemen had pop in their step and played with defensive intensity. Saint Joe’s on the other hand looked a step slow and couldn’t keep pace with the high flying Minutemen.
A Bitter Goodbye
While the final score was a hard to pill to swallow, there are other reasons why this loss was painful for Saint Joe’s. In the post game press conference Ryan Daly confirmed that he would not be returning to Saint Joe’s next year. This was earlier reported by Josh Verlin of Cityofbasketballlove.com. Daly was quoted after the game saying “This is my last college game ever”. A statement as short as it is impactful for Hawks fans.
There is no guessing where Saint Joe’s would be without Ryan Daly. Daly transferred to a team that he thought would be coached by legend Phil Martelli. However, that all changed when Saint Joe’s dismissed Martelli and hired Coach Billy Lange. However, through it all, Ryan Daly was an absolute professional. He showed up everyday and did the work that was required of him.
When I was an athlete at Saint Joe’s my team used to have meetings in the lobby of Hagan arena before practice. During my senior year, the year Daly sat out for eligibility purposes, I would show up early to our meetings. Everyday I would sit down before my meeting and watch Ryan Daly practice his shot, alone, in Hagan Arena. Daly was in the gym everyday that year working to be the best player possible.
Ryan Daly has been a great leader for Saint Joe’s basketball. I know that everyone at Saint Joe’s is grateful for what Daly has meant during this tough transition. I know that everyone at Hawk Hill will be rooting for him in his future endeavors.
Saint Joe’s Moving Forward
Saint Joe’s will now head into the offseason with many things to reflect on. Coach Billy Lange will look to hit the recruiting trail and add to a roster that is already starting to take shape. Coach Lange will also have to face a fan base that grows more impatient by the day. While this nice four game win streak did buy Coach Lange a lot of wiggle room, some Saint Joe’s fans are still demanding better performance from the program.
Regardless of what fans think, Saint Joe’s should get a lot of credit for how they turned this season around. It would’ve been easy for them to throw their hands up and quit. However, Coach Lange and Ryan Daly rallied this team and gave the fans at Hawk Hill something to be excited about.