Phil Martelli frustrated with 'really bad' basketball from St. Joe's in loss to George Mason

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Phil Martelli frustrated with 'really bad' basketball from St. Joe's in loss to George Mason

BOX SCORE

In a battle of underclassmen-filled rosters, it was a George Mason senior that made the difference at Saint Joseph’s on Tuesday night.

Patriots guard Marquise Moore finished with a double-double — leading all players with 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists — and George Mason held off St. Joe’s, 75-67, in an Atlantic 10 battle at Hagan Arena. The Hawks are now 8-7 (2-2 A-10) while the Patriots moved to 12-5 (2-2) with their first-ever win over St. Joe's.

The game heated up in the final three minutes. After George Mason had led most of the second half, St. Joe’s took its first lead in over 10 minutes when junior James Demery made a layup while absorbing a foul, giving the Hawks a 61-60 lead. That began a run of four consecutive baskets between the two squads, culminating in a go-ahead three-pointer by Patriots sophomore Otis Livingston off a Moore assist to put George Mason up, 65-63.

On the next possession, St. Joe's freshman Charlie Brown went up for a jumper that he said was tipped before it missed the net and went out of bounds. However, the refs gave the Patriots the ball and Moore drew a foul on the subsequent play, getting to the free throw line where George Mason pulled away in the final 90 seconds.

For most of the night, St. Joe's offense ran through the trio of Brown, Demery and Lamarr Kimble. The three players shot 47 of the Hawks' 64 field goal attempts, making 20 of them. Kimble led the team with 18 points on 18 shots, Demery fouled out with 16 points and Brown finished with a career-high 17 points.

St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli was frustrated with the offensive effort from his squad as it produced just five assists while turning it over 14 times. The team also made just five of its 21 three-point attempts.

“We’re not winning games with 67 points,” Martelli said. “I don’t know another way. Fourteen turnovers, and you saw them. Threw the ball off a foot. Offensive rebound and throw the ball back.

"... We had a very good practice [Monday]. A very good offensive practice [Monday] and had nothing. Nothing. We were just pulling and priding each possession down. That’s not successful for us."

Brown echoed his coach’s sentiments and said that St. Joe’s “should have won this game by at least 15 points.”

“I think we were just making mental mistakes,” Brown said. “Turning the ball over, missing shots that we usually don’t miss.

The Hawks were playing just their third game since leading scorer Shavar Newkirk went down for the season with a torn ACL. His absence was notable with the aforementioned trio forced to hoist shots during many empty possessions. Martelli mentioned that the team was putting too much on Kimble, saying "an 18-shot guy."

What may have frustrated Martelli the most was the lack of assists St. Joe's put together.

"It’s bad basketball. That’s the right number to look at," he said of the Hawks' five assists. "We over dribble and we need some playmakers. We need guys that are confident enough to make a play. That doesn’t mean take a shot, and we had a lot of that tonight. We had guys just taking shots.

"I have to do more for it. I have to help them with movement. I’m really disappointed because practice last night was really good, but that was bad basketball. Really bad."

While St. Joe's struggled on offense, Moore provided the difference on the other end. Despite his 6-foot-2 frame, the guard averages over 17 points and 10 boards, and he did a bit of everything on both ends of the court Tuesday night. He was particularly effective driving to the basket, including a few coast-to-coast layups. Demery was complementary of how Moore gets into a defender's body and produces despite being seemingly allergic to shooting threes.

As one of just two seniors to get significant minutes for the Patriots, Moore's strong veteran presence helped allow an underclassmen-laden squad find its bearings during a key road win.

"It’s huge because the one thing about him is that he didn’t get rattled," George Mason coach Dave Paulsen said. "I wouldn’t say he played great in the first half – he had nine points. He was frustrated but he didn’t get rattled. He kept playing. He kept moving the ball. And he did other things. He got on the glass. He was a willing passer."

With the loss, the Hawks fell to .500 in conference. Martelli referred to the loss as a “wasted opportunity” and it comes right before a big test: the Hawks face Atlantic 10-leading Richmond on Saturday afternoon.

Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

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Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

At 16-2-1, Penn State's men's hockey team is ranked first in the nation for the first time in program history.

The Nittany Lions have improved each of the last four years under head coach Guy Gadowsky. 

Their record by year:

      2013-14: 8-26-2
      2014-15: 18-15-4
Last season: 21-13-4
This season: 16-2-1

Penn State received 30 of 50 first-place votes in the USCHO Division I poll. Denver is ranked No. 2, followed by Boston University, Minnesota-Duluth and Massachusetts-Lowell (see USCHO poll).

Penn State was ranked fourth last week before sweeping Michigan State.

Villanova focused on learning from win over Seton Hall, not No. 1 ranking

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Villanova focused on learning from win over Seton Hall, not No. 1 ranking

A few hours before Villanova hosted Seton Hall on Monday night, head coach Jay Wright came home and talked to his wife, Patty.

“You know you’re No. 1?” she said.

Wright didn’t react much to the news, nor did the players on the team when they found out during the pregame meal a little bit later.

“It’s not really that big of a deal this time,” Wright said. “I think we were all much more concerned with Seton Hall.”

Being No. 1 may almost be old news at this point, but thoroughly dominating good teams at the Pavilion never gets stale for the Wildcats, who cruised to a 76-46 demolition of the Pirates on the same day they regained the top spot of the rankings after a week at No. 3 (see Instant Replay).

Senior Kris Jenkins sparked the win with 16 points, shooting 4 for 6 from the three-point line and 4 for 4 from the foul line — numbers he cared far more about than the No. 1 in front of Villanova.

“That’s just a number,” Jenkins said. “We focus on getting better each and every day. We can lose our next game and we won’t be No. 1.” 

Villanova reached the No. 1 spot in the AP poll for the first time in the program’s illustrious history last season, a couple of months before winning the national title on an iconic buzzer-beater from Jenkins.

The Wildcats then spent five weeks at No. 1 this season before a 66-58 loss to Butler on Jan. 4 moved them out of the top spot — only briefly, as it turned out.

“Every time you do something first is exciting,” Wright said. “And then you learn from it. I think we learned a great lesson last year and I think it helped us this year. And we learned a lesson again when we went to Butler. So you keep learning from it, that’s what we really take from it.”

As the Wildcats said last season, the most important thing is finishing the season No. 1. And they certainly showed once again that they have the chops to repeat as national champs — a prospect that Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard called “pretty exciting” even after his team had its brains beaten in.

“That’s a tough team to play,” Willard said. “They’re the No. 1 team in the country for a reason. If you’re not clicking on all cylinders when you come here, that can happen.”

Willard went on to say that “if Josh Hart’s not the National Player of the Year, then there’s something wrong.” But against the Pirates, Hart had a modest 11 points as Villanova showed off its impressive balance with all seven players in Wright’s rotation finishing with at least eight points.

Afterwards, Wright credited his three seniors — Jenkins, Hart and Darryl Reynolds (eight points, nine rebounds) — for helping the team bounce back from a sub-optimal performance in Saturday’s 70-57 win over St. John’s at Madison Square Garden.

“I’m just really fortunate to have three guys who are experienced and have been successful but are really humble,” Wright said. “We looked at the film, told them St. John’s played harder than us, and we took care of it. I think our seniors set the tone.”

Saturday’s win wasn’t the only game at the Garden on Villanova’s mind. The last time the Wildcats played Seton Hall, they suffered a stinging defeat to the Pirates in the title game of the Big East Tournament. 

Jenkins, though, insisted, that rare loss didn’t offer any extra motivation. Neither did the fact that Villanova set a record with its 47th straight victory at the Pavilion. Or that Monday’s win was the program’s 1,700th of all time.

“Numbers are something that is becoming a challenge for us,” Wright admitted. “It’s a great challenge to have. Right now, it doesn’t really do anything for us. But trust me, at the end of the year, we take great pride in that. All it can do is distract us right now. We know we have to answer the questions and you guys do a great job. I usually learn the numbers from you guys. It’s just not gonna do anything for us right now.”

Wright may not always like talking about his team’s absurdly impressive accomplishments. But he certainly loves games like this one as the Wildcats dominated all phases, from start to finish.

Deadly long-range shooting? Tenacious defense? Creating turnovers and scoring off them? Big-time hustle plays and rebounds? Electrifying dunks? Villanova did it all Monday in front of a raucous section of students back from winter break and one spectator named Ben Simmons, who took in the game from a courtside seat and applauded with everyone else.

What’s it like coaching a game like that? Is it ever hard when your No. 1 team is up by 30?

“It’s not difficult at all,” Wright said with a laugh. “It’s enjoyable. Things are going well, so you’re enjoying yourself.”