PHILADELPHIA - Ronald Roberts, Jr., scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Saint Joseph's to a 61-57 win over Rhode Island (10-10; 1-3 A-10) in an Atlantic 10 matchup at Hagan Arena. The win is the fourth straight for Saint Joseph's (13-5; 3-1 A-10) and ninth in the last 10 outings.
Roberts connected on 7-for-9 from the field and blocked three shots in the win. Langston Galloway tallied 15 points and Halil Kanacevic scored 11 for the Hawks. Chris Wilson handed out a team-high six assists.
Rhode Island was led by Xavier Munford with 16 points and eight rebounds while Gilvydas Biruta scored 11 points.
Rhode Island took a 37-31 lead early in the second half but the Hawks went on a 15-2 run to regain the lead, 46-39. Included in that was a dunk by Roberts to tie it at 37-37, while another Roberts' dunk off a missed shot gave SJU a 44-39 lead.
Galloway, who entered the game needing three three-point field goals to become SJU's career leader, hit his only three of the game at 6:40 to give the Hawks their biggest lead, 49-39.
E.C. Matthews hit a jumper as URI cut the Hawks' lead to 52-47 with 3:13 remaining, but Roberts countered with a three-point play to give SJU a 55-47 edge. The Rams cut it again to 57-52 on a dunk by Hassan Martin at 49.2, but Galloway made 3-of-4 free throws to give SJU a 60-52 cushion.
Munford kept the pressure on, scoring five straight points to cut Saint Joseph's lead to 60-57 with nine seconds remaining, but another free throw by Galloway at :06 provided the final margin.
"I thought we did a good job defensively. They're not a long-range shooting team, and again, the reaction of being down six with 14 minutes left, there was no panic. And we got a little more urgent," said SJU coach Phil Martelli.
After shooting 57 percent from the field in the past two games combined, the Hawks were uncharacteristically cold in the first half, hitting just 11-of-27 from the field and 1-for-10 from the three-point arc, missing nine long-range shots in a row.
"I think what Rhode Island did, just getting here, speaks to the integrity in this league. I don't know how long it took, but they started on a bus and only got so far on a bus and figured out a way to get on a train. That speaks volumes about Danny [Hurley] and the administration at Rhode Island and the way this league is run," said Martelli of URI's trip to Philadelphia in a snowstorm. "They could have very easily just said, 'Look, this is near impossible, we'll catch you on Thursday'. But they stayed with the task at hand and they got here."
"And you have to give credit to the people that work here at St. Joe's. When I left here yesterday around four o'clock, those guys were working their tails off just to get the parking lot ready to make sure that people were safe in coming to the game," said Martelli. "Class started again at 4:30 p.m. here, so I'm big on examples of what champions look like and I salute Rhode Island and I salute the physical plant here at Saint Joseph's for all of the hard work that they did."
The Hawks held a slim lead the entire first half, but saw Rhode Island end the period with a 9-1 run, taking their first lead of the game on a three-pointer by Xavier Munford with four seconds remaining in the half.
SJU made just 2-of-14 from three-point range in the game.
The Hawks go on the road for the next two games, at Richmond on Saturday and at Dayton on January 29