Adversity is part of the job description of a college basketball player and the Saint Joseph’s seniors certainly endured their fair share of U-turns over the last four years.
But the Hawks have been through so much – mainly by simply not living up to expectations prior to this season – that perhaps karma could have eased up a bit. But it was Connecticut – not the Hawks – who celebrated an 89-81 overtime victory in the second-round matchup on Thursday in First Niagara Center.
Langston Galloway – who scored 25 points – and Halil Kanacevic – who was all over the box score (12 points, seven rebounds and five assists) – both played huge roles for Saint Joseph’s throughout the season. But it was their inability to make plays while the game was still in the balance that forced their careers to come to an end.
Galloway could have lifted the Hawks into the third round at the end of regulation but he committed a turnover on a shot clock violation.
With the clock winding down and the game tied at 70, Hawks coach Phil Martelli thought UConn would overplay a ball screen so Kanacevic faked setting the pick for Galloway.
But the point guard dribbled the ball slightly off his foot and lost control, forcing an off-balance shot that misfired badly.
“It was a tough play – it hit the side of the backboard – I’m upset at myself for not getting a better quality shot,” Galloway said.
The Hawks sought redemption in overtime and had a chance until Kanacevic fouled out. There was 3:48 on the clock and Saint Joseph’s trailed by two points but in essence, the Hawks’ season was already over. Kanacevic, the team’s floor general, fouled out of the game when he allowed Amida Brimah to slip in for an offensive rebound and a conventional three-point play.
“I did a horrible job of boxing out Brimah when he got the offensive rebound…,” Kanacevic said. “That was a pivotal moment where we had them. I let these guys down, I should have boxed him out better and I shouldn’t have let him get that offensive rebound. … That hurt tremendously and I’m sorry for that, honestly.”
Perhaps the most heartbreaking part for Kanacevic was watching the end of the game from the sidelines.
“It’s tough, you don’t want to go out like that,” he said.