BROOKLYN, N.Y. – In the opening half they chose to shoot the three. And shoot it they did. George Washington shot 11 of 16 (68.8 percent) the first twenty minutes. The Colonials enjoyed a 14-point halftime lead, but could not sustain. Saint Joseph’s put together a strong second half to edge the colonials 86-80 in an Atlantic 10 quarterfinal at the Barclays Center. The Hawks will face Dayton, an easy winner over Richmond, in the Atlantic Ten Conference semifinals on Saturday.
George Washington shot an impressive 15 of 31 for 48 percent from three on the game. In the second half, the Colonials misfired shooting 4 of 15 for 27%. It was a combination of things. Percentages caught up the the Colonials? Yes, but beyond that it was a tighter Saint Joseph’s defense making it a point to locate and close out on perimeter threats.
“It was disappointing,” George Washington coach Mike Lonergan said of the setback. “They doubled Tyler Cavanaugh in the post. We decided to move the ball, if you had the shot take it.”
While the Colonials cooled off the final half, Lonergan was certain that was not the reason for the loss. “The first four minutes of the second half lost it for us,” he said. “We got a few stops and did not take the opportunity to build on the lead. That was big.”
Atlantic 10 Player of the Year DeAndre Benbry lead all scorers with 21 points. Joe McDonald paced the Colonials with 15. George Washington is 23-10. “We played a good schedule, lost to some very good teams and beat some along the way,” Lonergan said. “I would say we have a good body of work for the NCAA tournament.”
The win was number 400 in Saint Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli’s career. “I was not concerned and we did not talk about 400,” Martelli said. “The only number we talked about was two. That was our losing streak coming into this tournament and we wanted to snap it.”
St. Joseph’s is 25-7. Martelli will not talk about “next week”. “I am concerned we are 1-0 in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Sharing a campus with ‘bracketologist’ Joe Lunardi, the animated Martelli says, “I swear on a stack of bibles I never discuss it (NCAA tournament) with him.”
You can trust Martelli. You can also trust as he moves his team through the A-10 wars in Brooklyn he is doing so with an eye on “next week.”