Hawks' offense sputters in loss to Penn

DeAndre Bembry scored a team-high 25 points on Saturday night at The Palestra. The other nine Hawks that stepped onto the court Saturday evening, however, could only combine for 27. As a result, St. Joe's dropped an ugly one to Jerome Allen's Penn Quakers, 56-52. A full breakdown of what went wrong is inside.

Typically, when you hold a team to 2-6 shooting from three, 19 made field goals, and 19 turnovers, you win the game. On Saturday night, that wasn't the case. St. Joe's held the Penn Quakers to just 56 points on their home court, but it wasn't enough on a night when the SJU offense sputtered as it has on several occasions this season.

St. Joe's mustered just 17 first-half points Saturday night, going the final 7:34 of the first half without a single point. A Javon Baumann flip shot gave the Hawks a 17-14 lead at the 7:34 mark, but the remainder of the half saw only six points scored, and all by the Quakers. The Hawks missed all ten of their field goal attempts in that stretch, and also turned it over twice. Despite all of that, due to Penn's similar offensive ineptitude in that stretch, Phil Martelli's Hawks only trailed by three at the half, 20-17.

The Hawks were able to erase that three-point deficit relatively quickly in the second half, when Isaiah Miles knocked down a short jumper at the 15:40 mark to tie things up at 25. Tied up again at 32, Penn went on a critical 10-2 run midway through the second half, stretching their lead to 42-34 at the 7:30 mark thanks to back-to-back threes from Penn junior guard Tony Hicks.

St. Joe's had one more run in them, trimming a 46-36 deficit to 49-46 late, thanks to full-court press and the play of DeAndre Bembry. St. Joe's once again made it a one-possession game when Shavar Newkirk hit a three, only his second of the season, to pull SJU within 51-49 with 34 seconds to play. In the closing seconds, the Hawks had two more chances, the best coming on a DeAndre Bembry lay-up that spun around the rim before falling out. That basket would have made it just a one-point game with 22 ticks to play. Penn did just enough down the stretch to hold on for the win.

Penn was led by Tony Hicks' 15 points. Center Darien Nelson-Henry had his way inside, finishing with 14, while forward Greg Louis had 10 points and 9 rebounds.

It was DeAndre Bembry's third straight game of 20+points. Unfortunately, he had absolutely no help. Starters Chris Wilson and Isaiah Miles combined to shoot 4-18 from the field, and 1-11 from three, finishing with 9 points. DeAndre Bembry shot 10-22 from the field, while his teammates shot 10-34. Hawks not named DeAndre Bembry shot a combined 2-15 from three. There is a trend here.

Throughout the game, Hawk head coach Phil Martelli was irate with the officiating crew of Gary Pucino, Clarence Armstrong, and Paul Huovinen. There were several tick-tack fouls called both ways, but Martelli felt that the call were fairly one-sided. It felt that way, and the numbers back that up, with SJU called for 25 fouls and the Quakers called for 17. Penn also shot 28 free throws, compared to just 12 for the Hawks. St. Joe's had three players foul out of the game: Isaiah Miles, Aaron Brown, and Brendan Casper.

While the officiating didn't help, there are a number of other areas to examine when trying to figure out how the Hawks lost to a Penn team that entered at 4-10. For perspective, this Penn team lost by 17 points at La Salle at the end of December. Their four wins are against Navy, Marist, Binghamton, and Niagara.

St. Joe's once again got three-point-happy. The Hawks shot 5-24 from three, and 15-35 from two. That's 21% from three and 43% from two. This has been a trend this year, where the Hawks are only shooting 28% from three.

Another facet of last night's loss that is likely to raise some eyebrows was the disappearance of freshman James Demery for the final ten minutes or so of the game. Demery had four points on 2-5 shooting in 20 minutes, but sat essentially the final ten minutes of the game. Considering the Hawks were pressing, and Demery is a terrific athlete and arguably the team's best perimeter defender, his benching is likely to induce some head-scratching. Especially since it was walk-on Brendan Casper that played four of those minutes.

After Wednesday's win over UMass, St. Joe's appeared to have possibly turned a corner. While Wednesday was a step forward, Saturday's night's loss to this Penn team was certainly two steps back. St. Joe's has La Salle Tuesday night at Tom Gola Arena.

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