This was not the way Saint Joseph’s looked on paper.
On paper, Saint Joseph’s did not win on the road, losing all seven of its Atlantic 10 road games and winning just once in enemy territory during its nonconference slate. On paper, Saint Joseph’s was one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country, making 29 percent of such shots and ranking 326th nationally in the category. And on paper, Saint Joseph’s did not rebound well, averaging nine less boards per game than its opponents.
But Wednesday’s men’s basketball game was, of course, played on a basketball court – not paper. And on that court, the Hawks burned the Colonials again and again from long range and knocked down 60 percent of their threes, out-rebounded GW by a margin of five, and came away with their second road win of the season, putting an abrupt stop to the Colonials’ recent stretch of hot play with an 80-71 win.
“We got out-worked, we got out-hustled. They played with more intensity,” head coach Karl Hobbs said. “Obviously I feel real bad about that because that just hasn’t happened to us, where we’ve been out-worked. We’ve made some bad mental mistakes, but we haven’t had a bad effort day until tonight.”
“Honestly, I think it came out of a lack of focus, a lack of attention to detail,” said redshirt junior Travis King, who will be graduating after this season. “We came out flat and I don’t think we came with any fire tonight.”
On a night when the Colonials (16-12, 6-9 A-10) honored five departing players before their final home game, it was the visiting Hawks that seemed to come out with the more inspired play. Saint Joseph’s grabbed a lead on its first possession of the game, with the Colonials failing to overtake them until the first half’s final two minutes.
Despite its normal sources of offense running relatively dry – senior Damian Hollis had five first-half points; freshman Lasan Kromah had none – GW took a one-point lead into the break after senior Hermann Opoku beat the buzzer with a bucket in the paint.
Scoring the first two points of the second half put the Colonials up three, but it would prove to be their final lead of the game. The Hawks then reeled off 11 straight points to put momentum firmly in their favor and force GW to return to catch-up mode.
The Colonials stormed back over the next few minutes, ripping off an 11-3 run of their own to bring themselves to within one, but before the lead could be regained, the Hawks’ Darrin Govens drained two threes in a dozen seconds to erase any progress GW had made.
“They hit them so fast and we were on a run and had energy and everything,” Hollis said. “As soon as they hit them it was just like instantly, you felt the crowd go dead and the team kind of slumped a little bit.”
Helping the game from getting out of hand was a career-best scoring effort from junior Joseph Katuka, whose 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting served as the Colonials’ most consistent source of points.
“I thought Joe is the one guy that kept us in the game,” Hobbs said. “He’s the one that kept us within reach.”
Though Hollis grabbed a team-best five rebounds and finished third among Colonials with 10 points, his impact was relatively quiet. The senior forward has been nursing a rib injury for more than a month, which he said can only be treated with rest – something he cannot afford to have during the final stretch of the season.
“They’re messed up,” Hollis said of his ribs. “They’re not gonna be better any time soon. I’m just trying to do what I can.”
GW concludes its regular season with a game at No. 20/16 Temple (AP, ESPN/USA Today) Saturday in Philadelphia. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.