Bembry has put up impressive numbers since first coming to Saint Joseph’s, but found himself as the team’s lone threat a year ago. The difference one year can make can be astounding, as many Saint Joseph’s fans have now found out.
With a roster that is largely the same from one season ago, the Hawks have done a full 180, amassing a 23-5 record entering Sunday’s contest against Saint Louis.
After 40 minutes of play, it would be a familiar scene for Hawks fans as Bembry filled the stat sheet. But with teammates that have improved vastly from a season ago, the end result was different than 2014-2015. Bembry finished with 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists to propel the Hawks to a 77-63 win, their 24th of the season.
“We played a lot of close games last year, but we lost most of them,” Bembry said. “Losing definitely helped us this year to try and win some more games. We’ve been winning most of the year. We’re confident.”
Saint Joseph’s stretched its lead to nine in the opening minutes of the second half, but the Billikens refused to go away, rattling off an 11-2 run to tie the game at 47-47.
The Hawks would begin to turn the heat up from there, however, taking a 76-62 lead on a huge dunk from Bembry with 54 seconds remaining. Bembry would be subbed out shortly after, leaving the court to a standing ovation and chants of “one more year” from the student section.
Bembry finished with 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the Hawks’ 77-63 win, but if you ask around, it’s not the personal numbers that matter most to him.
“The number one number he is leaving with is 24 wins,” Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli said. “That’s what he’s about.”
While the Hawks came away with their 24th win of the season, Martelli sees plenty of room for improvement for Bembry and the team as a whole.
“I thought at the offensive end he was very calm,” Martelli said of Bembry’s performance. “I thought he really competed on the backboard for us. I think his defense should’ve been better. He wasn’t as attentive as he normally is defensively. And he can’t come out of a game with four turnovers.”
“I think it’s really good at this point in the year to still need practice,” Martelli said. “We need practice. The foul shooting cannot come back and be an Achilles’ heel and today turnovers and mental plays off. I think we have to be much stronger.”
Though there’s always room for improvement, the Hawks have already made giant strides from a season ago.
“It’s been a team effort,” Bembry said of the Hawks’ turnaround. “Everybody improved, not just me. Isaiah stepped up. He’s a big factor this season…We’re just bonded and we’re moving right now.”
And with an improved lineup, Saint Joseph’s now finds itself in a position to make some noise as tournament time approaches.
“We can’t let any game just slide by,” Bembry said. “We went to Davidson and gave one up there, so we already know the feeling. We just want to finish out the season and try to come in first place and you have to win games to come in first place.”
By: Kyle Babcock
Follow us on Twitter: @BroadStBeat