NIT loss to Northern Iowa ends Hawks' season

Saint Joseph's played their first postseason game since 2008 on Wednesday night, hosting Northern Iowa at Hagan Arena in a first-round NIT contest. The Hawks will have to wait until at least next March to play another postseason game, losing 67-65 to the Panthers, and thus ending their 2011-2012 campaign.

Saint Joseph's entered Wednesday night's game at 20-13, following a 1-1 record in the Atlantic 10 tournament last week. The Hawks were given a 2-seed in the NIT on Sunday evening, and the opportunity to host a home game. Northern Iowa, out of the Missouri Valley Conference, came into Hagan Arena on Wednesday with a record of 19-13.

At the half, Northern Iowa trailed the Hawks 24-22. Saint Joseph's scored 18 points in the game's first ten minutes, but managed only 6 points in the over the last ten minutes and change. Over that time, the Hawks managed just two field goals, a jumper from Carl Jones and a lay-in by CJ Aiken as the half ended.

Saint Joseph's inability to create any separation in the first half, when Northern Iowa could not buy a bucket, came back to bite them.The Panthers stormed out of the gate in half two, and less than seven minutes in, flipped a two-point deficit into a seven-point lead.

Saint Joseph's did claw their way back in, and actually tied the game multiple times in the closing minutes, but ultimately their first-half lethargy came back to cost them. Ron Roberts slammed one home with seven seconds to go, tying the game up at 65, but then committed a foul on Panther Seth Tuttle, who torched the Hawks all night long. Tuttle calmly nailed both, and with that, nailed the Hawks' season shut.

For Northern Iowa, forward Seth Tuttle, who averages a respectable, but not overwhelming nine points and five rebounds per game, went off. He tallied 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Panthers. Guard Marc Sonnen came off the bench for the Panthers and dropped 15, including two threes. The Panthers only shot 38% from the field, but were 16-20 from the free throw line, a critical stat in this one.

For Saint Joseph's, both C.J. Aiken and Carl Jones played very well. Jones led the Hawks with 24 while Aiken contributed 16. Sophomore guard Langston Galloway, who came into this game hot, only had 5 points, roughly a third of his season average. The Hawks only shot 13-22 from the line in this one, and 6-21 from three.

A Year in Review special will be up tomorrow, where Hawk Hill Hardwood will examine what went right, and what went wrong, in 2011-2012. We will also look at what needs to happen for this team to improve on this year.

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