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March 21, 2016

Oregon 69, Saint Joseph’s 64: Hawks offense goes cold down the stretch

We were pretty darn close to having two Big 5 teams in the Sweet 16. It wasn’t to be, though.

Despite 16 points from star DeAndre’ Bembry, the No. 8 Saint Joseph’s Hawks fell to the No. 1 Oregon Ducks 69-64 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Washington. The Hawks were extremely close to pulling off the upset (which after watching the game, wouldn’t have actually felt like a major upset) and joining their Holy War rivals Villanova in the Sweet 16.

Surprisingly, it was the offense that let the Hawks down. St. Joe’s only shot 38.6 percent from the floor and with a late lead, they only managed six points in the game's final 5:33. A couple of key turnovers — A shot-clock violation where Papa Ndao passed up an open shot that he needed to take, and some loose ball-handling from Bembry — combined with some late Oregon threes did St. Joe’s in.

The two Hawks stars, Bembry and Isaiah Miles, combined to shoot 8-25 from the field. Now the question turns to whether Bembry returns to Hawk Hill for his senior season or decides to turn pro.

Oregon will become America’s Team on Thursday night, matched up with No. 4 Duke. Thursday night will still be a decent basketball night for Philly hoops fans with Villanova playing, but it could have been great if the Hawks were able to execute slightly better down the stretch:

This was still a great season for St. Joe’s, who captured the A-10 championship, won a tourney game for the first time in a decade, and finished with a 28-8 record. Phil Martelli and his team should be proud of what they've done, but I am sure they are pretty frustrated with a missed opportunity against a No. 1 seed that doesn't really feel like one. 

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann