When I checked my ESPN app for this game earlier today, the 95 percent win chance in favor of Rutgers didn’t make a win that feasible for Hartford. But I have a soft spot for the Hawks, so I kept my hopes up that they would at least not lose terribly.
I was pleasantly surprised tonight.
With the homecoming of two Jersey boys on the team in J.R. Lynch and Jason Dunne, Hawks fans were sure to find their way to the RAC — especially since Dunne shelled out 50 tickets for friends and family.
The first thing that shocked me was how improved Hartford was from the line, and that is effectively what kept it a close game in the first half. Hassan Attia hit seven of nine from the line and all of his attempts in the first half after coming in with a 33 percent free throw percentage. It wasn’t until 10:08 in the second half that Hartford missed any free throws.
Not only was Attia phenomenal from the line, he ended the game with 11 points, nine rebounds, and six blocks. Granted, he fouled out, so there’s still something to work on. But this was probably his best night overall in quite some time.
The two Jersey boys ended the game with 14 points each, Dunne sealing in the victory with a final free throw in the end to make it 60-58.
But the real star of the game for Hartford was John Carroll. The Hawks couldn’t have won the game without him. He had a team-high of 17 points and hit some key baskets down the stretch. His ability to be in the right place at the right time was key, especially with the amount of back-door cuts Hartford ran.
Though his most important moment wasn’t even on offense.
Carroll and Eugene Omoruyi collided in a 50/50 foul call. It was originally called a blocking foul on Carroll, but after a longer-than-necessary review, the refs overturned the call in favor of the Hawks. If Carroll had planted his feet just a second or two later, that could have changed the entire course of the game.
I never thought Hartford would win a game with 17 turnovers, but here it is. Maybe this is the spark the Hawks need to get going. Could Hartford improve to run with the top of the America East? Could they be the sleeper team ready to disrupt the conference standings? Who knows.