Saint Joseph’s was hit in the mouth by Davidson’s offensive assault Tuesday night. Phil Martelli felt there was a more appropriate way of describing his team’s inability to combat Davidson’s dominance in the Hawks' 75-60 loss at Hagan Arena (see Instant Replay).
“It’s inexcusable,” Martelli said of St. Joe's offensive performance. “The layups and the foul shooting. I’ve always said missing a layup is not two points. It hits you like it’s a bat — and we missed seven dead ones.
“We didn’t give ourselves a chance, we paced [poorly]. We had two really good days of practice and played a lousy pace of game.”
Davidson’s Peyton Aldridge was the Hawks' worst nightmare and the reason why they never led once in the game. There were a brief 12 seconds — the first 12 of the game — when the score was tied. Aldridge was literally perfect from everywhere in the first half. He was 7 of 7 from the field, 2 for 2 from beyond the arc and 4 of 4 at the free throw line. He finished his first half with 20 points and six rebounds.
St. Joe's (10-11, 3-6 A-10) only player capable of stopping the 6-foot-8 buzzsaw was not at full strength. James Demery, 6-foot-6 and averaging a team-best 7.1 rebounds, had been under the weather leading up to game day.
“Not an excuse, just a fact James has been sick for two days,” Martelli said. “That’s why I yo-yoed him in there a little bit. And he was our chance to guard Aldridge. [Demery] just didn’t have it and didn’t do a very good job in the first half anyway."
Demery played a season-low 18 minutes while posting just five points and four rebounds.
Meanwhile, Wildcats leading scorer Jack Gibbs was held to single digits for the first time all season. The senior guard, apparently a bit hampered, came in averaging 22.7 points per game, good for ninth best in the country.
But his quiet night didn't matter.
"They had an injured Gibbs and we let two guys go over their scoring averages in Jon Axel (Gudmundsson) and (Will) Magarity," Martelli said. "But Aldridge, that’s what an all-league player looks like and that’s what an all-league player does.”
Aldridge finished with a double-double of 31 points and 13 rebounds — all of those boards came on the defensive end. Axel and Magarity finished their nights with 13 and 14 points, respectively.
As for Demery, it was evident that he was truly not himself. The junior, scoring 14.5 points per night, was coming off a game against La Salle in which he posted a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds). Then again, he usually plays the majority of each game and couldn't play half of Tuesday's.
St. Joe's fell victim to a slow start and early 17-8 deficit. Nine points is not impossible to come back from but the Hawks lacked a premier scorer to take control. They trimmed Davidson's (12-8, 5-4 A-10) lead to 20-14 midway through the first half, but the Wildcats countered with a 17-6 run.
“The middle part there where it was maybe eight [points] and we had a couple possessions, that’s when it would have [been the time to capitalize],” Martelli said. “Their M.O. is you can get back [in games against them]. And I was checking with the coaches as we were going and saying, 'Well, we are OK here.'
“Seventy-five is not our number. And we have to be exact here. Some of these games we come out with turnovers and not enough shots. This game, we came out with 61 shots. But God bless us, just shoot a layup.”
St. Joe's went on a 9-2 run with time winding down in the first half. It started with a free throw followed by a Charlie Brown three-pointer, and ended with a Lamarr Kimble three. That momentum put the Hawks within 10 points at the 1:28 mark and going into halftime.
The momentum, however, did not translate in the second half. Overall, St. Joe's was outscored in the paint, 38-28, and left 10 points at the free throw line, going 15 for 25.
Martelli, set to receive the “Good Guy” award from the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association this week, tried to be diplomatically critical.
“What I have been saying all year is this team is immature,” he said. “It’s not a mean way. It’s just an immature team. So those [missed] layups, [the boys'] feelings get hurt. Or a play is not there, they want to explain it [to me]. I don’t mean this in a negative way, we just weren’t manly enough. I’m not knocking them. We just didn’t man it up.”