Not even the specter of Tuesday being St. Joseph's Day could help the Saint Joseph's Hawks in their First Round NIT match-up with St. John's at Hagan Arena.
Sir'Dominic Pointer dribbled the length of the floor and then hit a baseline jump shot while fading away at the buzzer to give St. John's a 63-61 win over Saint Joseph's, with the clock striking midnight on one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory for Hawks fans.
It was a good first half from Saint Joseph's as they led during the majority of the half, taking a 32-26 lead into the locker room at halftime behind an impressive effort from the backcourt duo of Carl Jones and Langston Galloway, who combined for 21 of the Hawks 32 first half points.
A three-pointer from Jones gave the Hawks their largest lead of the game as they started the second half on a 8-2 spurt which put them in front 40-28 with 18:26 remaining.
St. John's snuck back into the game midway through the second half as Saint Joseph's went on a drought of over five minutes without a field goal. A three-pointer from Pointer suddenly had the Red Storm within three points with 7:25 to play.
Amir Garrett scored consecutive buckets within a 23 second span with under four minutes left to give St. John's their first lead since midway through the first half, 57-56 with 3:17 in the contest.
The Hawks found themselves down by two points with ten seconds left. After Phil Martelli used a timeout, Ronald Roberts drew a foul and connected on both free throws to tie the game at 61 with just 5.7 seconds left, setting up Pointer's heroics at the buzzer for the Red Storm.
Jones led the Hawks with 21 points in his final game at Saint Joseph's after a four-year career which sees him end up as the third leading scorer in program history.
Galloway added 16 points in the losing effort while Roberts also finished in double-figures with 10 points and 7 rebounds in his first match-up against St. John's. Roberts was originally a St. John's recruit but did not attend the school after Norm Roberts was fired and Steve Lavin was brought in as coach.
JaKarr Simpson led the Red Storm with 16 points while Pointer scored 15 in a victory which will see St. John's advance to the second round of the NIT to face off against Virginia.
In a season that many observers thought would be special for Saint Joseph's, the Hawks fell flat on their face. A second consecutive exit in the first round of the NIT does not meet anyone's definition of special. Fan apathy was apparent once again as there were over a thousand empty seats at Hagan Arena for the match-up with St. John's.
With one of the most talented recruiting classes in school history heading into their senior year, the program seems to be at a crossroads.
Why couldn't the program take the next step? I will be examining that along with other issues surrounding the Saint Joseph's Hawks in a series of articles over the coming week.