PHILADELPHIA - Playing at Tom Gola Arena for the first time in nearly 13 years, the Saint Joseph's men's basketball team came away with a 75-64 victory over crosstown rival La Salle on Saturday.. All five SJU starters finished in double figures, led by senior Langston Galloway's 18 points.
After going scoreless in the first half, freshman DeAndre' Bembry made 5-of-7 from the floor in the second to finish with 16 points. Senior Ronald Roberts, Jr., added 15 points, while senior Halil Kanacevic and junior Chris Wilson chipped in with 10 points apiece.
Saint Joseph's (17-7 overall, 7-3 Atlantic 10) led from the 15:08 mark of the first half, but La Salle (12-12 overall, 4-6 Atlantic 10) had cut its deficit to 68-59 with over three minutes to play before a three by Taylor Dunn at 2:08 pulled the Explorers to within 68-62.
Galloway then made a pair of free throws to give SJU a 70-62 lead with over a minute to go before Kanacevic added another with 55 seconds to go. La Salle answered right back with a basket by Tyrone Garland to come within 71-64 with 49.2 seconds left.
Galloway and Roberts then sank a pair of free throws apiece to salt away the win.
Kanacevic was whistled for his third foul early in the second half, but the Hawks built up their lead without their top assist man. A pair of three-point plays by Bembry, followed by a layup by Galloway, gave the Hawks their biggest lead at that point, 46-30, at 15:33.
Wilson then scored five straight, including a steal and layup with the free throw, to push the Hawks' lead to 16 points, 51-35. Papa Ndao hit a three-pointer as the shot clock expired to give SJU a 54-35 lead.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Dunn and Garland cut the Hawks' lead to 56-48 with 10:53 remaining. A drive by Bembry gave the Hawks' another 10 point cushion, 58-48, followed by a pair of Galloway free throws and a three from Bembry upped SJU's lead back up to 63-48. The Explorers then went on a 14-5 run to get within two possessions late.
"Seniors, seniors. They have been special since the summer when we were preparing for Italy. They were great on that trip and they've been great every practice. When I looked at the stat sheet at halftime, I thought that the seniors are taking us here," said head coach Phil Martelli. "Five double figure scorers helped us get through something we haven't dealt with in a while - Halil in foul trouble. Papa and Isaiah gave us some good minutes. It's a road win and I just think the world of these players as human beings and am delighted that they're having success.
Saint Joseph's shot 53.6 percent from the field in the first half and led for most of the period. La Salle came within three at 27-24 with 3:28 to go, but the Hawks ended the half with a 9-2 run. A three by Galloway at :14 put the Hawks ahead by double digits for the first time, 36-26, at intermission. Roberts led the way, making all five shots in the half and scoring 12 points, while Galloway added 10.
It was the first time the teams met at La Salle's Gola Arena since March 3, 2001, when former Hawk Marvin O'Connor scored 18 points in the final minute of a one-point loss.
Saint Joseph's will travel to Rhode Island for a Wednesday evening tilt. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Ryan Center; the contest will air on Comcast SportsNet and 610 WIP.