Saint Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli said he “never knows what (he is) going to see on the road.” What the Hawks saw, along with 2,703 people at Smith Center Wednesday night, was a game whose lead seesawed through 40 minutes.
In this down season, they watched a piece of theater starring a Colonials team fighting not for the lead in the conference as it traditionally does, but to muster some semblance of normalcy in this stretch of very public embarrassment.
But ultimately, what Martelli and the restless GW fan base saw was a Colonials squad that dropped its second home game in a row for the first time in five seasons, a team that has lost 11 of its last 16 games, and a team that will face Temple on Sunday looking to avoid its sixth straight loss and its ninth consecutive on the road.
It has been expected, to a certain degree, for GW to lose on the road in typical conference play. But falling in Foggy Bottom to a Hawks team that appeared to play only marginally better than the Colonials perhaps marks just how much of a down season this is.
The Colonials (5-11, 1-5 Atlantic 10), who lost to then-No. 20 Xavier Jan. 19 at Smith Center, have now lost two home games in a row for the first time in five seasons. GW head coach Karl Hobbs said after that game, despite the loss, that the Smith Center faithful can sometimes lift the Colonials and that the fans sometimes will just not allow GW to lose. For the second time in a row, the venue could not lift the Colonials.
Martelli said he thinks it is a “badge of honor” to be considered the best road team in the A-10 at the end of the season. While that may be true, it is equally, if not more important to win games at home.
Hobbs said he does not put relevance on where the loss took place but rather the fact that his team did not seem to improve in this game when compared to its last, a 92-67 thrashing at Duquesne.
“We have to get better,” Hobbs said. “We had opportunities and we didn’t capitalize. We turned the ball over. Those turnovers were unforced.”
Hobbs paid particular mind to two turnovers in a row in the final couple of minutes, when the Colonials were playing catch-up, that may have put winning out of reach. After sophomore Damian Hollis traveled, junior Cheyenne Moore threw the ball out of bounds. Two possessions later, junior Wynton Witherspoon was at the line and missed both free throws.
And yet the game turned out to be winnable for GW in the final seconds. Down eight with 39 seconds remaining, senior Maureece Rice hit a three and, after the Hawks hit one of two free-throws, junior Noel Wilmore made a jumpshot. It was only after Saint Joe’s (13-5, 1-5 A-10) again hit one of two free throws and a wild GW toss that was batted away that the Hawks were able to breath again.
“That was not nearly a good enough way to finish a game,” Martelli said of the way the Hawks played down the stretch.
Up next is Temple, which has won three of its last four – including victories over Xavier, the University of Pennsylvania and Saint Louis. The one loss? Saint Joseph’s by one point.