Hawks Let One Slip Away
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications
Nashville, TN - Sometimes games slip away quickly. Sometimes they slip away slowly. The Hawks' 78-76 loss at the hands of host Vanderbilt in the final game of the three-day round-robin America's Youth Classic did both. Quickly - how about the rebound that slipped through the hands of both Bill Phillips and Jameer Nelson and into the grasp of Vandy's Greg LaPointe who drilled home the game-winner as time expired. Or one could take the slow approach by examining the final six minutes where SJU was outscored 12-1 after holding owning a nine-point lead, 75-66. "We thought that they would cross their wings and try and go for a dump in," stated Hawk coach Phil Martelli on the final possession. "Damian Reid did a wonderful job on LaPointe. They missed the shot, the ball broke loose and they made a miraculous shot." On the final possession, SJU played solid straight up defense. Vanderbilt, which scored 30 points in the paint, got the ball into the hands of their 6-10 senior center, La Pointe. Due to Reid's defense, he had to kick it out to point guard Russell Lakey, who launched one way off the mark. Phillips and Nelson converge on the rebound and it slipped away, back into the hands of LaPointe, who immediately launched a fall-away 10-footer as time expires - Game Over! "What we tried to do what we had been doing all along," added Martelli on the closing six minutes. "We had picked out certain plays that had been going (well), and that is what we tried to do." "A couple of times we went a little to quick....but that is going to happen. This is a great game for us for November 19th. We are going to be in these games, we are going to have 16 to 22 of these games and we want to fight and win a five-minute game." Leading 75-66 following a Marvin O'Connor dunk at the 6:01 mark, the Hawk offense went south. SJU would tally just a Reid free throw at the three minute mark on nine offensive possessions the remainder of the contest. O'Connor, who played splendidly, tallied a career-high 32 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the field. But during the final three minutes he was whistled for two consecutive offensive charges with Seton Hall transfer Chuck Moore, a Plymouth Meeting, PA native, defending. Nelson, the A-10 Rookie of the Week, who had been near flawless in his first two contests, scored a season-high 15 points, but accounted for only one assist against five turnovers. Phillips, who is a remarkable 18-24 from the floor in the first three games, hit 5-of-9 in this contest for 13 points. He also led the Hawks in rebounds (8) and assists (4). SJU (2-1) led by as many as 12 twice in the second half with the Commodores only lead in the stanza coming on the final bucket. But it was free throw shooting again that hurt SJU. The Hawks hit just 5-of-11 from the charity stripe in the second half, and 11-of-18 for the game. Senior Erick Woods went down with 11:47 to play after a hard foul on a driving layup. The Hawk guard should be fine for the team's next game, at Colorado on Sunday (11/26). Vandy (3-0) was led by Moore's 18 points. La Pointe added 12 and a game-high 9 rebounds.