Huskies bring an end to a Hawk era

On Thursday evening, Saint Joseph's dropped an overtime thriller to UConn in the Round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament. UConn, led by Shabazz Napier and DeAndre Daniels, knocked off Saint Joseph's 89-81 in overtime, despite a 25-point effort from Hawk senior Langston Galloway. As Galloway, Ron Roberts, and Halil Kanacevic walked off the court, it marked the end of an era in Hawk hoops.

UConn freshman 7-footer Amida Brimah completed a three-point play with 39 seconds left in regulation to tie things up at 70. St. Joe's and UConn both had chances to win it at the end of regulation, but neither team was able to convert on those opportunities.

In overtime, Hawk senior forward Halil Kanacevic fouled out at the 3:48 mark on a three-point play by forward DeAndre Daniels. Langston Galloway responded right back with a three to tie it up at 73, but from there the Huskies seized control. Shabazz Napier had 9 of his team-high 24 points in the final 2:12 of overtime, knocking down free throws to put the Hawks away.

St. Joe's led UConn by as many as 10 in the first half, and held a 40-35 halftime lead over Kevin Ollie's Huskies. The Huskies scored the first four points of the second half to pull within one, but the Hawks responded right back with a 6-0 run of their own to take a 46-39 lead. Back-to-back triples by Niels Giffey and Napier got the Huskies back within a point, and the game was neck-in-neck the rest of the way

While Shabazz Napier will get the headlines for his 24 points, St. Joe's head coach Phil Martelli stated that it was 6'9 forward DeAndre Daniels that was the deciding factor in the win. "We wanted to try to keep him under 10 points, but he finished with 18. 12 in the second half," Martelli told 97.5 The Fanatic host Mike Missanelli on Friday. Daniels shot 3-6 from three, and was a mismatch on both ends for the Hawks.

Langston Galloway led all scorers with 25 points on 8-13 shooting. DeAndre Bembry also chipped in 16 points, while also playing terrific defense on Napier all game long. All five Hawk starters scored in double figures, but as has been an issue all year long, the bench didn't contribute at all. In fact, the Hawks' bench was outscored 13-0 by UConn's.

The loss brings a close to the 2013-2014 season for the Hawks. It is a year that began with a win at Vermont, a crushing home loss to Doug McDermott and Creighton, then back-to-back losses to city rivals Temple and Villanova. The Hawks were 4-4 following their 30-point home loss to Villanova on December 7th. They then reeled off a 17-3 stretch before losing their final two games of the regular season.

St. Joe's, following losses to George Washington and La Salle, entered the Atlantic 10 Tournament in need of at least one win to secure an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Hawks then knocked off Dayton on a Langston Galloway three in the closing seconds, handled Saint Bonaventure, then beat VCU 65-61 to win the Atlantic 10 title for the first time in 17 years. At 24-9, the Hawks earned a 10-seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they got a date with 7-seed UConn.

The senior class of Halil Kanacevic, Ron Roberts, Daryus Quarles, and Langston Galloway will long be remembered for the ups and downs of their careers. At the end of the day, the five are responsible for ending a five-year NCAA drought and a 17-year Atlantic 10 Championship drought.

With the 2013-2014 now in the books, it is time to reflect on not only the year past, but also the future. We will begin our Year in Review, which includes player capsules for each scholarship player. We will also begin to look forward at next year. Galloway, Kanacevic, Roberts, and Quarles all graduating, next year will look much different on Hawk Hill. Newcomers Aaron Brown, James Demery, Shavar Newkirk, Obi Romeo, and Markell Lodge will all be counted on, early and often.

Anyone that follows college basketball closely knows that there is no offseason. While the 2013-2014 has now come to a close, the coaching staff is already beginning to think about next year, and beginning to address recruiting needs. The Spring and Summer Live Periods are only a few months away, and the coaching staff will be actively tracking 2015 and 2016 recruiting targets.

Then, we also have the Summer League in June and July where the Hawks will be competing. It will be an opportunity to get an early look at the incoming freshman class. There really is no such thing as an offseason.

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