Following consecutive losses to St. Bonaventure and Duquesne to close the regular season, the Hawks found themselves struggling at the worst possible time.
Things would not look any better in the early going Friday against George Washington. With the Colonials connecting from beyond the arc at will, the Hawks’ tournament hopes were dwindling even further by the minute.
Despite trailing 49-35 at the half, however, Saint Joseph’s would dig deep, storming all the way back for an 86-80 win to advance to the semifinals on Saturday.
“At halftime we thought about it, but we stayed confident,” Isaiah Miles said. “Like Coach (Phil Martelli) said, everyone kept their eyes up. Everyone kept their head. We were confident. We knew the game wasn’t over. We knew we had a whole other half. And again, we are playing for our lives because it’s win or go home, so that’s also in play in our minds.”
George Washington would not slow down from there in the half, connecting on 11 first half threes to take 49-35 lead to the locker room and give cause for concern to Saint Joseph’s and its fans.
The Hawks would emerge from the break looking like a completely different team, however, cutting the Colonials’ lead to just 52-48 on a DeAndre’ Bembry three-pointer with 15:18 remaining in the game.
Saint Joseph’s would continue to apply the pressure from there, cutting the George Washington lead to just two on a free throw by Bembry before a three from James Demery gave the Hawks a 70-69 lead with 6:26 left to go.
From there, the Hawks continued to outplay the Colonials, stretching their lead to as a large as eight before picking up an 86-80 win to keep their A-10 and NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
“We walked into the the locker room (at the half) and said, we’ve been here before, we’ve been in this situation versus St. Bonaventure a few weeks back, but we weren’t able to get over the hump,” Aaron Brown said. “We just really preached to keep fighting and stay with it, and that’s what we did, and we showed some character with that.”
Saint Joseph’s was led in the win by Bembry, who recorded 21 points, six rebounds and three assists. Seniors Aaron Brown and Isaiah Miles added 19 and 15 points, respectively, for the Hawks.
Not to be overlooked were the contributions of Demery, who finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, including three on the offensive glass, to help key the Hawks’ comeback.
“James (Demery) was the player of the game in the second half, a lot of offensive rebounds and one at the end of the game,” Bembry said. “It’s definitely as a team, and we try to stay like that, and everybody made big plays down the stretch.”
Saint Joseph’s will now face Dayton in the A-10 Tournament semifinals on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
By: Kyle Babcock
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