As they prepared last week for Saturday’s game against Saint Joseph’s, the members of the men’s basketball team knew they had to stop the Hawks’ shooters and limit forward Dwayne Jones’ activity on the glass.
They didn’t think point guard Dwayne Lee would pick the Owls’ defense apart. But that’s exactly what Lee did.
Departed all-American Jameer Nelson’s replacement handed out 11 assists and committed one turnover to lead the Hawks over the Owls, 69-57, at the Palestra.
“I didn’t expect him to have only one turnover because he usually turns the ball over more,” junior guard Mardy Collins said. “But if the other guys are knocking down shots, he can have assists like that every night.”
The Owls play tomorrow at Duquesne.
Collins led the Owls (11-10, 7-3) on Saturday with 23 points, but no other player was very effective on offense or defense. Freshman guard Mark Tyndale was the only other Owl to reach double figures with 11 points, while the Hawks’ Pat Carroll and Chet Stachitas shot a combined 9-for-17 from three-point range.
Collins said the Hawks’ efficiency from the field was demoralizing since the Owls had been conscious of the shooting threats coming into the game.
“It’s [frustrating] especially when the last couple of days all we did was focus on Stachitas and Carroll and getting out on them,” Collins said. “We come out and give those up, it is kind of frustrating.”
St. Joe’s dominance in the post was as crucial as its shooting. Jones had 13 boards to help the Hawks outrebound the Owls, 32-24. Jones had five offensive rebounds, just two less than the Owls had as a team.
Coach John Chaney preaches the importance of second-chance points off offensive rebounds. He praised Jones while criticizing his own frontcourt players.
“[Jones] is very active,” Chaney said. “He does what he does extremely well. Of course, we’ve got two or three big guys [Keith Butler, Antywane Robinson, Wayne Marshall] who are just giving us nothing.”
Chaney has been highly critical of Robinson this season, but the junior co-captain had played solidly of late. Entering the game, Robinson had scored double figures in three of the last four games and shot .500 from the field. But he scored just two points and committed four fouls in Saturday’s loss.
“I’ve given up on him right now,” Chaney said. “I hate to say that because his father just came back from Iraq and was in the stands. Maybe that added pressure, but I’ve got to get around that. I’m not going to start him anymore.”
Freshman DaShone Kirkendoll tied a season high with eight points and sophomore Dion Dacons added five points and five rebounds off the bench. Robinson, Salisbery and Marshall scored a combined six points.
Carroll led all scorers with 27 points. He hit six three-pointers to break Marvin O’Connor’s school record of 231 career three-pointers made.
Basketball logic dictates turnover margin is typically a reliable predictor of success. But including Saturday’s loss, the Owls haven’t been able to rely on that statistic this season. The Owls are only 9-8 in games in which they force more turnovers than their opponent. They forced 11 turnovers against St. Joe’s while committing four.
FREE THROW WOES
Carroll scored seven of his 27 points at the foul line, where he attempted 11 free throws. By contrast, he was not whistled for a foul until 1:23 remained in the game. Following a relatively foul-free first half (the two teams committed just 12 total fouls before halftime), the Hawks shot 16 free throws in the second half while the Owls attempted three.
The Owls stayed undefeated against Philadelphia teams because Saturday’s game did not count in the Big 5 standings. The Owls face the Hawks (12-9, 9-1) again Feb. 22 at the Liacouras Center. That game that will impact the standings.
Benjamin Watanabe can be reached at email@example.com.