What a difference a year makes.
Just two games into the season, the Hawks appear to have quite a bit of depth and as a result, the pressure no longer lies solely on Bembry’s shoulders.
After scoring 23 points in the season opener against Drexel, Bembry got off to a much slower start in Sunday’s contest with Niagara, going scoreless on just one shot in the first half. One year ago, that likely would’ve resulted in Saint Joseph’s finding itself trailing at the half, but on Sunday, the contributions of others allowed the Hawks to head to the locker room with a 34-28 lead.
Bembry would find his groove in the second half, as the Hawks opened up a 24 point lead on their way to 73-62 win over Niagara, but with four Hawks scoring in double-figures for the second straight game, it became evident Bembry no longer needs to do it all for Saint Joseph’s.
“We have a lot of playmakers. Checco is another playmaker. Shavar is doing a lot better. We have people who are making plays for others, so that’s really the best thing,” Bembry said.
With Bembry attempting just one shot in the half - a miss from beyond the arc - as well as missing his lone free throw attempt, the Hawks would look elsewhere for contributions. Aaron Brown and Isaiah Miles would step up, scoring 10 and seven points, respectively, to give the Hawks a 34-28 halftime lead.
“We’re not going to have 34. We’re going to have 24, maybe, and that’s leaning all over Isaiah,” Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli said of what a scoreless half from Bembry would’ve meant a year ago.
Bembry would get going early in the second half, however, scoring eight straight points in just more than a minute to help Saint Joseph’s open things up a bit.
“When you see DeAndre’ going well, scoring back-to-back-to-back-to-back, we were all pumped, because he was down,” Miles said. “We want to see each other do well. The vibe of this team is that we all pick each other up, so even if Checco scored eight straight, the whole team would be pumped. There’s no selfishness.”
The Hawks would continue to spread the love in the second half, building a lead as large as 24 on their way to a 73-62 win and a 2-0 record.
Brown and Miles would lead the way for the Hawks in the scoring column, tallying 14 points a piece, while Bembry and freshman Pierfrancesco “Checco” Oliva filled the remainder of the stat sheet. Bembry would finish with 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds, while Oliva added 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
“Just having that extra skill and extra depth is great,” Miles said.
The Hawks will look to continue their early season success when they face Buffalo on Wednesday night, but if one thing has been made clear in their first two games, it’s that Bembry is no longer the lone threat in the Hawks’ lineup, something that should lead to much more success for Saint Joseph’s than a season ago.
By: Kyle Babcock
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