Who: Saint Joseph’s (14-6, 4-2 A-10) vs. UMass (17-3, 4-2 A-10)
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Hagan Arena
TV / Radio: CBS Sports Net / CBS Sports Radio 610
By JAMES HILL
“UMass still sits with us to be honest with you,” Phil Martelli said after a Jan. 18 victory over Penn. “We’re still bothered by that game.”
In their Atlantic 10 opener on Jan. 8, Saint Joseph’s held a nine-point lead on the Minutemen with six minutes to play in the Mullins Center. But with Ronald Roberts and Isaiah Miles on the sidelines with injuries, the shorthanded Hawks fell apart down the stretch as UMass turned up the intensity and the home crowd fueled its team.
“Bitter may be too strong of a word, but we’re bitter about that,” Martelli admitted.
The Hawks have their chance at revenge on Saturday when the Minutemen come to Hagan Arena limping, having lost two of their last three games. The Hawks and Minutemen sit tied for fourth place at 4-2 in the conference – two games out of the lead.
The Hawks return to Hagan Arena for a three-game home stand after what could be characterized as an eventful road trip. Saint Joseph’s dropped the first game of the trip last Saturday at Richmond, but saw senior Langston Galloway become the all-time leader in three-point shooting at Saint Joseph’s.
Galloway again stole the show against Dayton on Wednesday, banking in a well-defended fadeaway three-pointer to beat the Flyers on their home floor for the first time in 13 years. Senior Halil Kanacevic surpassed the 1,000-point threshold early in the second half of the game at Dayton.
Now the Hawks return home, hoping more fireworks and reasons for celebration return with them. Saint Joseph’s has an opportunity to make a statement to the NCAA Tournament committee on their home floor, as they welcome a slew of “quality win” opportunities. Following UMass, who enters the game ranked 21st, St. Joe’s will face 19th-ranked Saint Louis, who leads the conference at 6-0, and Virginia Commonwealth, who is tied for second in the conference right on the heels of the Billikens.
The Minutemen enter after a midweek loss at Saint Bonaventure. UMass won its first three league games this season, but was living on the edge while doing so, as their average margin of victory was just over three points. Since then, they’ve lost road games to Richmond and the Bonnies, sandwiched around a home win over Fordham. They will almost certainly need a win against the Hawks to maintain a place in the national rankings.
The Hawks, in need of that elusive quality win for their resume, get their next opportunity Saturday night.
Scouting Saint Joseph’s: The Hawks now have three 1,000-point scorers on their team, as Ronald Roberts and Halil Kanacevic have hit that plateau this year to join Langston Galloway, who hit the mark early last season…. The Hawks are now 12-10 since early-December losses to Temple and Villanova…. Saint Joseph’s trails UMass in the all-time series 34-29…. The Elite Eight team of 2003-04 will be honored prior to the game.
Scouting UMass: As Chaz Williams goes, so go the Minutemen. The undersized guard leads the team in points, at 15.7 per game, and leads the conference in assists, with 7.3 per game. In the win over Saint Joseph’s, he scored 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting. But in their two conference losses, he has averaged 9.5 points per game on 5-of-21 shooting…. Big man Cady Lalanne is near the top of a number of statistical categories in the Atlantic 10. He ranks first in blocks at 2.5 per game, second in rebounds at 9.0 per game, and is third in the A-10 shooting 57.9 percent from the floor…. UMass is the league leader in team offense, scoring nearly 78 points per game. They also lead the conference with 15.9 assists per game.
Sound Off: What must the Hawks do to slow down Chaz Williams?
James Hill covers Saint Joseph’s basketball for Philahoops. Reach him at [email protected], on Twitter @jrhill17, or leave a comment below.