As has been the case for quite some time, Saint Joseph’s was plagued by poor free throw shooting Saturday afternoon.
Fortunately for the Hawks, George Mason didn’t fair much better at the charity stripe.
In the end, it would be timely free throws that proved most valuable for the Hawks, as Saint Joseph’s made four of five free throws in the final 26 seconds to hang on for a 58-54 win over George Mason.
Saint Joseph’s would get off to a solid start, as star sophomore DeAndre’ Bembry made a gorgeous pass to James Demery for the layup to put the Hawks up 7-2.
George Mason would battle back to knot the game at 13-13, but the Hawks would utilize an 11-2 run over the next four plus minutes to take their largest lead of the first half at nine.
The Hawks would be unable to put much more distance between themselves and the Patriots, however, taking a 31-24 lead at the break.
Saint Joseph’s would receive contributions from an unlikely source in the first half, as freshman Jai Williams led the team with eight points after totaling just two points all season in nine prior appearances. Bembry would fill the stat sheet in the first half to help guide the Hawks, recording six points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.
“Jai Williams answered the bell in the first half,” Martelli said. “The players get energized by him. He is like the rest of these guys. He gives you an honest effort in practice. He does that in practice and he deserved that opportunity to be better and get a chance to play.”
The Hawks would continue to struggle to put away the Patriots in the second half, growing their lead only to as large as 10.
With the Patriots refusing to go away and the Hawks unable to sink free throws, things became tense for Martelli and his squad in the final minutes, as they found their lead whittled down to just two with 3:20 remaining in the game.
The Hawks would hang on in the end, however, making their free throws when they counted most, as they went 4-for-5 from the free throw line over the final 26 seconds of play to pick up a 58-54 win over George Mason.
Bembry would lead the way for the Hawks in the win, finishing with 14 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
While Bembry filled the stat sheet, he went just 4-for-9 from the foul line, epitomizing Saint Joseph’s struggles with free throws.
“It started off with me missing free throws, period,” Bembry said. “We’ve just got to get better.”
The Hawks would finish the game just 16-for-31 from the line, leaving much to be desired by Martelli.
“It was 16-for-31,” Martelli said. “I’ll address it that way. It was 16-for-31. It was not acceptable.”
Saint Joseph’s will be back in action on Wednesday night against Rhode Island at Hagan Arena, as the Hawks look to build some late season momentum.
“We’ve got to be better offensively in these last eight games in the Atlantic 10,” Martelli said.
By: Kyle Babcock
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