Unfortunately for Phil Martelli and his Saint Joseph’s squad, they were taught that lesson the hard way yet again on Saturday night at the Cathedral of College Basketball, the Palestra.
Despite a 25-point effort from sophomore star DeAndre’ Bembry, the Hawks found themselves unable to complete a furious rally down the home stretch in a 56-52 loss to Big 5 rival U Penn.
Both teams looked sloppy coming out of the gate, but Saint Joseph’s would find themselves with a five-point lead midway through a first act where points were at a premium.
After a layup by Javon Baumann gave the Hawks a 17-14 lead, the Quakers would clamp down on defense even more, however, holding Saint Joseph’s scoreless for the final 7:34 of the half to head to the locker room at the Palestra with a 20-17 advantage.
The Hawks would have plenty of opportunities in the half, but with Penn playing staunch defense, would find themselves only able to make 25.8 percent (8-of-31) of their shots.
“It’s a really difficult game when you can’t make baskets,” Martelli said.
Penn in stark contrast had a much more efficient half on the offensive end, taking just 19 shots, but making eight of them to finish the half shooting 42.1 percent from the field.
Both squads would pick up the pace offensively in the second half, as the Quakers utilized a 6-0 run to take a 31-25 lead over Saint Joseph’s.
Penn would continue to work efficiently on the offensive end, taking a 10-point lead on a dunk by Mike Auger with 5:06 remaining.
The Hawks wouldn’t be quite finished yet, however, as Bembry drove the lane for the layup and the foul with 3:26 remaining. Bembry would knock down the ensuing free throw, and suddenly the Quakers found their lead cut to just three.
With little contributions from the remainder of the Hawks’ roster, however, Bembry found himself facing double teams down the stretch, as Penn held on for a 56-52 win, their first Big 5 win since another four-point triumph over the Hawks on January 21, 2012.
“I think it’s good to always win, whether it’s last Big 5 game of the season or the next game on the schedule, it’s always good to get a win,” Penn Coach Jerome Allen said.
Bembry would finish the game 25 points, but would receive little help from his teammates, as the Hawks fell to 8-10 on the season.
“I would label that as an opportunity missed,” Martelli said. “On a Saturday night at the Palestra, we should have made a better showing.”
Penn would receive a much more balanced effort from its lineup, as Tony Hicks finished with 15 points, Darien Nelson-Henry with 14 and Greg Louis pitched in 10 points and 9 rebounds.
“It means a lot,” Tony Hicks said. “This is my first Big Five win. My first three years we’ve been getting beaten up on consistently. It’s a big step going forward. I think it’s a big springboard. I think it just sends a message to the rest of the league, Ivy and Big Five, that we’re getting better.”
By: Kyle Babcock
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