Rutgers scrapped, clawed and battled, but it couldn't get key stops on defense and failed to make free throws.
It left Scarlet Knights coach Mike Rice frustrated as he said Rutgers was "soft" on the defensive end in a 76-70 loss to St. Joseph's on Friday in front of 5,219 at The Palestra in the Hoop Group Classic, which the Hawks won.
St. Joseph's (3-2) shot 57.1 percent (12 of 21) in the second half and controlled the boards to overcome 17 turnovers. The Hawks shot 51 percent from the field for the game as Rutgers (3-2) saw its three-game winning streak end.
"We didn't have an edge. Our big guys didn't have an edge," Rice said. "There was no physicality in our defense. They drove around and did what they wanted to do. We were always chasing tonight. That started with our close outs. (They) were poor, and the details of what we did were poor.
"So, I thought we were a soft basketball team on the defensive side."
Mike Coburn led Rutgers with 13 points and added five assists and James Beatty had nine points and two assists, but it was their inabilities to stop Hawks guards Carl Jones (21 points) and Langston Galloway (20 points) on dribble penetration that did in the Scarlet Knights.
When Coburn cut a 10-point second-half deficit to 62-61 with 4:19 to play on a jumper, Jones responded with a buck.
When Austin Johnson scored on Rutgers' next possession, Jones got to the free throw line on the next trip and made two shots, then put St. Joe's ahead 68-63 with 2:58 to play on a lay-up.
"I definitely agree with coach," Coburn said. "We've got to toughen up a little more as a team." Rutgers finished 10 of 19 from the free throw line, with Coburn going 3 for 6 and Dane Miller missing both of his chances. He was limited to six minutes in the first half because of foul trouble and played 19 minutes overall.
"After the two fouls I came in (for the second half) and missed two lay-ups, I missed the free throws …my head was just blurry," Miller said. "I feel like I didn't play with the same energy everyone else was playing on, and I wasn't paying attention to detail."
Miller entered the game leading Rutgers in scoring (11.8 points per game), but didn't score until late in the second half and finished with two points on 1 of 5 shooting.
However, St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said it was point guard James Beatty (nine points, two assists, three turnovers) who was the focus of the Hawks' defensive game plan.
"I think that Beatty is a really tough match because he's a guy that takes shots in the middle of your offense," Martelli said. "It's bounce, bounce and he just shoots. Miller is multi-talented player; a heavy right-handed player. We started our game plan with Beatty. I thought he was the primary guy for them."