By Andrew Knowlton, County Times
Four Seahawk players fouled out in the final minutes of a 70-61 loss to Hood College on Sunday afternoon. The loss put the St. Mary's College men's team at a disappointing 1-2 for the season as they placed sixth in the Provident Pride of Maryland tournament at Goucher College.
The Seahawks had no option but to foul as Hood pulled away in the last two minutes of the game.
"That was a game that was pretty much anyone's game with three minutes to go and we had four players foul out," head coach Chris Harney said. "It was a physical game and I don't think we were as mentally tough as we should have been when it really got heated up there at the end there with guys fouling out."
With 2:53 remaining and Hood holding onto a slight 60-56 lead, guard Mike Smelkinson put the Seahawks in position to win the game as he rattled in a crucial three-pointer. But the Blazers put an end to those chances by scoring the next seven points—mostly on foul shots—to wrap things up.
"We played hard, we held them to 30 percent shooting in the first half, which I thought was probably the best defensive effort we've had here in a long time," Harney said.
Despite losing to Hood and dropping their season-opener 78-60 at home to Johns Hopkins, the Seahawks have several reasons not to give up hope for the season. They had a convincing 84-68 win against Frostburg State Saturday, and have improved their shooting percentage since the first game, in which they shot 29.9 percent from the field.
They shot 38.2 percent against Hood and an impressive 57.1 percent against Frostburg.
"It's only game three and it was a pretty good team," Harney said. "So we're not getting too down about it and we just gotta' build on our mistakes and get better. I think it's just gonna' take us some games to gel and get used to playing styles and things like that."
Guard Tyson Lesesne is leading the Seahawks in scoring with 14.3 points per game and shooting 12 of 13 from the charity line. Alex Irmer averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game in the tournament, earning him a spot on the all-tournament team.
Valdez Preston and Dan Engelstad are contributing an even 10 points per game so far this season.
Against Frostburg, Lesesne and Irmer each scored 20 points and led the Seahawks in a 19-3 run during the first twenty minutes of the game. This put them ahead 47-29 at halftime.
"They came ready to play and they stayed focused throughout the entire game," Harney said. "We had a working-like attitude and those guys got the job done. They went in, did what they had to do, and when the buzzer ended we finished them off."
Irmer shot 10-for-12 and grabbed nine rebounds. Engelstad added 19 points in the winning effort, shooting 70 percent from the field.
"Those guys set the tone early on and they really went for the basket focused and determined. In the end, they had the most points, but they kind of set the table for the rest of the team to finish off Frostburg," Harney said.
St. Mary's played their first conference game last night against the red-hot Cardinals of Catholic University. Catholic was on a four game winning streak heading into the contest.
"They're pre-season picked to win the league, so you have to measure your victories in small steps I think if you want to win the war," Harney said of the Cardinals before that game. "We're going into the game looking to give them their first loss, this will be a real test to see if we've learned from our mistakes against Hood."