By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The St. Joseph’s University men’s basketball team will return to action on Sunday when the Hawks visit UMass up in Amherst in an Atlantic 10 match-up.

Last time out on Wednesday, the Hawks lost a real heartbreaker to George Mason on the road, 81-79. After climbing uphill most of the game, the Hawks took a 79-78 lead on a Chris Clover basket with five seconds left, but Otis Livingston II hit a deep three at the buzzer to give the Patriots the win.

St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli reflects on a really tough loss.

“I try every time out to pick out positives and negatives, whether we win or lose,” Martelli tells KYW Newsradio. “Certainly, being on the road and only turning the ball over three times, just keep climbing in a game where we trailed. Our defense was not strong in the first half, giving up 47 points, but we played much better defense in the second half, giving up 31 points until that [game winning] three. Hard to take.”

The defeat against George Mason dropped the Hawks to 7-8 on the season (2-2 in the A-10)

“It’s enormous to not let a loss like that just stay with you,” Martelli says. “I’m supposed to be the ‘adult in the room’ and as I was watching tape and preparing for UMass, plays would flash back into my mind. We’ve had experience with this this year, Washington State out in the Wooden Legacy hit a three [to beat the Hawks] and I believe that loss led to us not being mentally as sharp against Harvard the very next day [in a 77-71 loss].

“Here we have a three-day window,” Martelli continues. “But that will be the first message to the players when we start the scouting report. Wednesday has come and gone, the best way we can prepare for tomorrow is to prepare superbly today. We can’t feel sorry for us, no one feels sorry for us and we have a responsibility to squeeze the most out of our preparation for UMass.”

UMass is 9-8 on the season (2-2 A-10). The Minutemen are coming off an 86-79 overtime win over La Salle in Amherst where they came back from 21 points down. That was a showcase game for sophomore guard Luwane Pipkins who set a program record with 44 points.

“The system that he’s in is allowing him to be free and easy,” Martelli says of Pipkins. “He has a combination that you don’t normally see – he has a combination of range on his jumper and speed to the basket.”

The Hawks have lost their last three games against UMass.

Sunday’s game tips off at 5:00pm.

You can follow Matt on twitter @Mattleonkyw.​

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