Hoosiers Falter Late Against Saint Joe's

Lahaina, Hawaii - Indiana (2-2) started strong but faltered late in its second-round 80-54 loss to Saint Joseph's at the Maui Invitational. The Hoosiers now play Chaminade Wedesday in the seventh place game...

Lahaina, Hawaii - After its second blowout loss in as many days, IU coach Tom Crean said his team is disappointed, but not discouraged.

The Hoosiers (2-2) lost 80-54 to Saint Joseph's (2-2) in the second round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational Tuesday. The two teams played a tight game in the first half before the Hawks blew the game open in the second period.

Freshman forward Tom Pritchard's two-handed dunk with 18:05 remaining made it a one-point contest and seemed to mark a comeback for the Hoosiers. But instead of rallying, IU crumbled, committing seven turnovers in less than six minutes and allowing Saint Joseph's to explode for a game-ending 23-2 run.

"We are…all…very…young…men," Crean said, deliberately pausing in between each word. "And we're playing against groups of players who have been playing for ‘x' amounts of years and programs that are established."

"Again, it's not an excuse, it's a fact," he added.

Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli echoed Crean's assessment, simply attributing the defeat to "older against younger."

"Obviously, the Indiana situation is like starting over," he said.

Martelli said his team came out in the second half and simplified everything they were doing. The longtime St. Joe's coach said he went to his bench more and his defense stepped up.

"We really used our defense…to get some offense," Martelli said. "We are not an 80-point team, but we got a lot of lay-ups."

Saint Joseph's scored 34 points off of IU's 23 turnovers.

Despite the 26-point margin, Crean said his team competed much better than it did in Monday's 88-50 loss to No. 8 Notre Dame. The team's defensive intensity picked up, and IU's defensive deflections increased from 13 against the Irish to 36 today.

But the negatives outweighed the positives once again for the Hoosiers. Not a single player scored in double-digits, with freshman guard Malik Story coming off the bench to lead the team with nine points. Guards Daniel Moore and Devan Dumes combined to commit 12 turnovers and the Hoosiers shot just 37.5 percent from the field. From beyond the arc, IU finished 3-of-14.

Crean said his team came prepared and had an excellent walk through before the game, but the pre-game success didn't translate to the game.

"We can't mirror (games) in practice," Crean said. "We've got freshmen guarding freshmen, freshmen being guarded by walk-ons and then we come out in the games and we're being guarded by grown men."

Saint Joseph's "grown men" exploded on the offensive end against the Hoosiers, shooting nearly 60 percent from the field for the game. Junior guard Darrin Govens led the Hawks with 23 points, including 7-9 shooting from 3-point range. Senior forward Ahmad Nivins added 18 points and eight rebounds.

The Hoosiers matched the Hawks on the boards, with each team finishing with 29 rebounds. Despite the insurmountable deficit late in the second half, the Hoosiers kept competing as if the game were still on the line.

"We are making progress," Crean said. "It's just not enough right now to compete against older, experienced teams that have physical mindsets."

IU will now try and avoid losing three straight regular season games since February of 2006. The Hoosiers play tournament-host Chaminande (0-2) Wednesday (2 p.m. island time, 7 p.m. EST) in the consolation game for seventh place. The Silverswords lost to No. 1 North Carolina by 45 points in the first round and fell by 22 points to Alabama on Tuesday.

"Indiana really wants a win," Chaminande coach Matt Mahar said Tuesday. "Those kids play so hard, we're going to have to be ready for more intensity. I don't think it's a typical day three at all. I think Indiana will be chomping at the bit to get after us."

Note: Matt Dollinger covers the Hoosiers for the Indiana Daily Student.

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