Offense stalls as Hawks fall to 49ers

Around and around and around the ball spun on the rim, seemingly defying the laws of physics. After resting for a moment on the back iron, Chris Wilson's three-point attempt from the right corner rimmed out.

And it did. Right into the hands of Charlotte's DeMario Mayfield, who was promptly fouled. His free throws extended Charlotte's lead over Saint Joseph's to four with just over a minute to go. It was a deficit the Hawks would be unable to overcome.

In a game that saw Saint Joseph's shoot a remarkably poor 2-21 from three, the fact that Wilson's shot rimmed out is apropos. The fact that Mayfield essentially clinched the game with his ensuing free throws also fits in with the game's storyline. Charlotte earned 22 trips to the free throw line, compared to only 7 for the Hawks.

Three days after an impressive come-from-behind win at Duquesne, Saint Joseph's hosted Charlotte for their Atlantic 10 season opener. With students on break still, and Hagan Arena about as stoic as it has been all season, the Hawks came out of the gate relatively flat.

Saint Joseph's sophomore post Halil Kanacevic scored the Hawks' first six points, and kept Saint Joseph's, almost single-handedly, in the game. Kanacevic and fellow sophomore Ron Roberts each had 8 first-half points, combining for 16 of the Hawks' 24 points at intermission. Saint Joseph's entered the half trailing the 49ers 31-24.

After a lethargic, sloppy first half, the Hawks came out strong in the second. A Carl Jones three at the 13:16 mark of the second half capped a 14-5 run for the Hawks and gave them a 38-36 lead. With just over 6 minutes to go, Kanacevic scored to put the Hawks up 48-43.

That 5 point lead evaporated completely when Charlotte guard Jamar Briscoe scored in close to tie the game up at 50 a piece. Over the game's final 6:56, Saint Joseph's only points came on four free throws from Jones. The 49ers outscored the Hawks 14-4 over that frame.

In addition to the atrocious three-point shooting, the Hawks also turned the ball over 15 times. Sophomore guard Langston Galloway was defended throughout the game wonderfully and held to 6 points, 10 below his season average. Sophomore forward C.J. Aiken was also kept in check, scoring 4 points, well below his season average.

The loss capped what has been a rough three-game stretch for the Hawks. Saint Joseph's had a prime opportunity for a quality road win on New Year's Eve at Harvard, where they saw a double-digit second-half lead disappear. A remarkable comeback on Wednesday at Duquesne erased what had been, to that point, a poorly played game. Then, on Saturday, the team came out flat, fought back, and then wasted away a 5-point lead down the stretch.

Following the loss on Saturday, Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli said that "there's got to be a lot of soul-searching, starting with me."

The Hawks dropped to 11-5 on the year with the loss, and 1-1 in conference play. They return to action Wednesday at home against Fordham.

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