Minutemen use late run to knock off Hawks

On Wednesday evening, Saint Joseph's made the trip north to Amherst to open Atlantic 10 play against 19th-ranked UMass. Behind Chaz Williams' 22 points, UMass overcame a late 9-point deficit to earn a hard-fought Atlantic 10 victory. The loss dropped the Hawks to 9-5.

Saint Joseph's got a double-double from senior forward Halil Kanacevic, who turned in 19 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists. Langston Galloway had 18 points and freshman wing DeAndre Bembry also chipped in 16 points and 8 rebounds.

For the Minutemen, Chaz Williams led the way with 22 points. Maxie Esho had 12 points off the bench and lanky forward Raphiael Putney poured in 11 points for Derek Kellogg's UMass Minutemen, who improved to 13-1 with the win.

The game was an emotional rollercoaster for both teams. Saint Joseph's entered the game shorthanded, with sophomore forward Isaiah Miles unable to play after suffering a concussion Saturday against Denver. When Ron Roberts went down with a back injury early in the second half, it made the sledding that much tougher for Phil Martelli's team. Roberts' injury forced Martelli to play Papa Ndao and Javon Baumann in the game's closing 18 minutes.

Despite Roberts' injury and Miles' inability to play, Kanacevic, Galloway, and Bembry carried the Hawks to a late lead. With 6:23 to play, Halil Kanacevic scored in close and the Hawks built a 57-48 lead. Two Chaz Williams free throws, a Langston Galloway turnover, and a Trey Davis three quickly pulled the Minutemen within 57-53, and the momentum shifted.

The game's final four minutes are a tale of squandered opportunities for the Hawks and seized opportunities for the Minutemen. Up 61-59, Langston Galloway made just one of two free throws. A Chaz Williams lay-up pulled UMass within one, and then the game's definitive moment took place when Maxie Esho stripped DeAndre Bembry. Esho poked the ball free from Bembry's handle and took it the other way for a two-handed slam, which gave the Minutemen a 63-62 lead.

Down 63-62, Galloway missed a good look from three which led to two Trey Davis free throws. In the end, the Minutemen earned a hard-fought 66-62 win. As emotional a win it was for UMass, it was just as crushing a defeat for the Hawks.

The Hawks will likely look back at this game in two different lights. On the bright side, St. Joe's battled hard against the #19 team in the nation, on the road, without their all-league forward in the second half, and without their 6th man for the game. While there are positives to take from the game, the Hawks blew a late 9-point lead, turned the ball over 17 times, and missed 7 of their 17 free throws.

The loss dropped the Hawks to 9-5. It was their third close loss of the season, including their home loss to Creighton and road loss at Temple. Phil Martelli's team will look to rebound on Saturday evening at George Mason. Mason plays at VCU tonight in their first Atlantic 10 conference game.

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