St. Joe's could not solve Rhode Island's high-intensity defense Wednesday night, falling, 68-49, at Hagan Arena (see Instant Replay).
Before the first media timeout, the Hawks already had four turnovers. Even coach Phil Martelli can admit it comes down to skill and depth -- both areas the Hawks lack in.
"We came out and turned the ball over," Martelli said. "That's not sluggish, that's skill. We turned the ball over four times by the first media timeout. It has nothing to do with being sluggish, it has everything to do with the skill of running, passing and dribbling the ball.
"I'm not killing anybody, but on the first play of the game, our guy dribbled the ball off his foot into the backcourt. We threw at least three passes into the crowd."
St. Joe's finished with 13 turnovers.
Its troubles began in the first half as it fell behind, 36-20, thanks to a 12-2 run by the Rams late in the stanza. The Hawks never held a lead in the game.
"They're a great defensive team," Brendan Casper said. "They pressure the ball, they overplay the wings and they make it difficult for you to get into an offense. I think we struggled with that today. We couldn't initiate the first pass and we were slow. We couldn't get the ball out on the break, I don't know how many fast-break points we had but I feel like we were slow in the break.
"So credit to them for a great defense, but also we didn't run offense. We missed foul shots. When we got looks, they didn't always drop, but they're one of the best teams in the Atlantic 10."
Casper started for Nick Robinson, who played only eight minutes because of a foot injury. The fourth different starting point guard for the Hawks was right about St. Joe's being lost at the free throw line, where it went 9 for 20 (45 percent).
However, it wasn't just the charity stripe. The Hawks struggled in the paint, an area they were outscored, 34-20, while the bench was outscored, 27-9. St. Joe's also shot just 2 for 9 from beyond the arc.
This is the ninth straight loss for the Hawks. They have not lost that many in a row since January 2011.
"I find the closest brick wall and run straight into it," Martelli said. "As many times as I can. Because that's what I'm doing, that's what it feels like. All I can do it ask them to fill up their tank, and to show up.
"All I can do is come up with a plan. Tonight's plan: zone. We played one possession of man-to-man. And people will say, 'You just waved the white flag.' Well, give me an option here. What if we had foul trouble? We would have been down to volunteers to play, so we couldn't afford foul trouble."
Martelli has been without his starting point guard Lamarr Kimble, who injured his foot on Feb. 11 against UMass, and leading scorer Shavar Newkirk, who tore his ACL earlier this season.
Freshman Charlie Brown still believes in his point guards not named Kimble.
"We have Nick and Brendan, who get our offense started," Brown. "When it comes down to it, we need to be scoring more."
With a pair of triples Wednesday, Brown set the Hawks' freshman record for threes in a season at 66. He hit his first one two minutes into the contest and waited until there were 45 seconds left in the game to enter the record books.
"It's a great feeling," Brown said. "I thank my teammates, first of all. They allow me to get open and take my shots and I really thank them for that."
Records aside, this was still another Hawks loss because of a young team with players that have not fully matured yet.
"Call it the way it is," Martelli said. "That was participation. That wasn't a competition.
"I think they gave me what they have, it's just their games are light. Team with the better players won and team with the more manly players won."
Prior to the start of the game, Casper and Javon Baumann were honored for senior night.
Martelli spoke highly of each and mentioned they have contributed to rich history of St. Joe's basketball.
"They have two [A-10] championships," Martelli said. "They have two championships in four years and Javon already graduated in 3½ years. Brendan is a remarkable athletic honor-roll student. They are leaving as champions. They get a tattoo for this [season's] record, too, but they have two Atlantic 10 rings. Job well done."
Casper left the game to a thunderous applause late in the second half.
"There are definitely a lot of emotions in your last home game," Casper said. "Especially getting the start at point guard … you want to go out and play well in your last game."