Men’s basketball honors senior players in last home game
The Saint Joseph’s University Hawks took on the University of Rhode Island Rams in the last men’s basketball game of the season at Hagan Arena on March 1. It was senior night for the Hawks, and seniors Brendan Casper, Javon Baumann, and Timmy Parks, the Hawks mascot for the last two seasons, were all honored before the start of the game.
“Playing point guard on senior night and starting, it’s crazy,” said tri-captain Casper after the game. “It’s been a hell of a ride and I am sad I don’t play here again.”
The Hawks were looking to break their eight-game losing streak. This was the longest since a nine-game streak in January of 2011. The Rams were looking for another win to stay atop the Atlantic 10 and get a two-game bye in the conference tournament. It was a crucial game for both teams.
The Hawks had to deal with another injury at the start of the game. Freshman guard Nick Robinson had a bruised foot and did not start the game, although his X-Ray was negative for any fracture.
The game started out in favor of the Rams. They took advantage of an early Hawks turnover and took early control of the game. They went on an 8-0 run in the first half and jumped to a 12-point lead midway through the first half.
The Hawks kept fighting and got the game within 7 points. They were helped by both Casper and Baumann.
“[There is] a lot of emotion,” Casper said. “You want to go out and play well on your last game.”
The Rams were able to take a 16-point lead into halftime, leading 36-20.
When the Hawks came out from the locker room, they were fighting to get control of the game. Casper took control and made a major statement in his last game at Hagan Arena, scoring 5 points, two steals, and staying in the lane to take charges.
Casper believed in himself enough to think that he would one day start on senior night.
“It’s crazy; if I had told you that [I would be starting point guard on senior night], I believed in myself, but no one else would know to believe me,” Casper said. “I always had a lot of confidence in myself.”
The Rams defense was forcing the Hawks to take some bad shots and the Hawks defense was not stopping the Rams.
“They [are] a great defensive team, they pressure the ball and over play the wings, and make it difficult to get into offense,” Casper said. “I think we struggled with that today.”
The Hawks did keep fighting, but the Rams won by 19 points with a 68-49 final score.
“They have two championships in four years,” said Head Coach Phil Martelli. “Javon has already graduated in three and a half years. Brendan is an incredible athletic honor roll [athlete], and their leaving as champions. They do get a tattoo for this record, but they have two Atlantic 10 rings, a job well done.”
The Hawks also had a problem with fouls, 3-point shooting, and turnovers. The Hawks were 2-9 for 22.2 percent from beyond the arc and 9-20 for 45 percent from the foul line. The Hawks also committed 11 turnovers during the course of the game.
On a positive note, freshman Charlie Brown did set the Hawks freshman 3-point record with 66 makes on the season. The record was previously shared by Langston Galloway and Arthur Davis at 65.
Martelli believes Brown will be recognized on the All-Rookie team, but believes Brown still has room for improvement.
“[He] Brown needs to toughen and harden his heart,” Martelli said. “He can’t be 1-2 from the foul line [and] he can’t have three turnovers.”
The Hawks did finally break their nine-game losing streak in the following game. They went out to Pittsburgh to face the Duquesne University Dukes on March 4 for their final regular season game and pulled out a 63-60 win. St. Joe’s improved their free throw shooting and three point shooting and were able to avoid being the last seed in the conference tournament.
The Hawks look to repeat an A-10 Championship in the upcoming tournament. They have to win five straight games to be back-to-back champions. Up next, the team will face the University of Massachusetts on March 8 at 6 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh in the A-10 tournament.