For the second time in a week, the Saint Joseph's men's basketball team fought back from an early 11-point deficit and scored a 53-52 win over Denver at Hagan Arena. Langston Galloway scored 14 points and DeAndre' Bembry added 13 as the Hawks won their fifth game in a row.
Saint Joseph's (9-4) led 51-49 with 2:06 to play and after two turnovers by Denver and one by SJU, Denver (7-8) regained possession with 10 seconds to play. Marcus Byrd's three-pointer was off the mark and SJU's Halil Kanacevic blocked the follow-up by Chris Udofia. Bembry then grabbed the rebound and fed to SJU point guard Chris Wilson, who was fouled and made both free throws with six-tenths of a second to play to put the Hawks up, 53-49. Denver's Bryant Rucker hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to provide the final margin.
"The win is the win, but I'm upbeat in the fact that you fall down 11 to that style, you really feel like you're in a hole and that you can get there but you can't get over the top. So for us to get back and tie that game, that's a good boost, emotionally and psychology, for this group," said SJU coach Phil Martelli.
The teams traded leads in the early part of the second half, but Saint Joseph's went on a 9-0 run to take their biggest lead of the game, 45-37, with 8:07 to play. The Hawks were paced in the second half by Bembry (10 points) and Ronald Roberts, Jr. (9 points), who was scoreless in the first half.
Of Roberts' ability to bounce back from a scoreless first half, Martelli said, "That's a matter of maturity, and the coaches get a lot of credit. You know who else? Halil [Kanacevic] because he'll whisper in Ron's ear. You give me those seven shots that he had, and there were other plays that he left out there... More is expected. He's better than that. But 15 rebounds and he had a big block in the first half. He had a tough matchup. 15 rebounds guarding a four man and their four man plays away from the basket. So that's a little bit of a boost."
The Hawks struggled offensively in the first half, shooting just 27.6 percent and had to come back from an 11-point deficit.. SJU went without a point for close to five minutes as Denver jumped out to a 12-3 lead. Trailing 21-10 with 8:28 to play, Galloway started the Hawks' comeback, scoring seven consecutive points as SJU went on an 8-2 run. SJU closed to 23-21 on a layup by Kanacevic but Denver took a 25-23 lead into intermission on a dunk by Udofia.
Ronald Roberts, Jr., grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds for the Hawks while Kanacevic had six rebounds and four blocks on the day.
Jalen Love of Denver had 20 points, hitting 8-of-12 from the field and tying his career-high with four three-pointers in seven attempts.
Last Sunday, SJU came back from 11 points down to defeat Boston University, 73-67. The five-game winning streak is the longest for Saint Joseph's since a five-game streak in December 2011.
Saint Joseph's opens conference play on Wednesday, January 8 when it travels to #23 Massachusetts.