PHILADELPHIA - Ronald Roberts, Jr. scored 22 points and Chris Wilson had a career-high 20 points as Saint Joseph's scored a convincing 79-53 win over Dayton at Hagan Arena in a battle of two of the Atlantic 10's hottest teams. The win was the fifth in a row for Saint Joseph's (20-7; 10-3 A-10) while snapping Dayton's six-game winning streak, which started after the Hawks beat the Flyers (19-9; 7-6) in Dayton on Jan. 29.
Saint Joseph's reaches 20 wins for the eighth time under coach Phil Martelli and for the first time since the 2007-08 season. The five-game winning streak ties the longest of the season for SJU.
Wilson shot a perfect 8-for-8 from the field, while Roberts hit 8-of-11 field goals.
Wilson and Roberts each scored 11 points in the first half as the Hawks quickly built up a double-digit lead. The Hawks scored the first eight points of the game and never looked back, taking a 10-1 lead in the first four minutes, and expanding it to 17-6 with seven straight points from Roberts. Back-to-back three-pointers from Papa Ndao built SJU's lead to its biggest of the half, 37-18, and the Hawks went into intermission holding a 39-20 lead.
Saint Joseph's shot 62.6 percent from the field in the first half, and made 4-of-6 three-pointers. The Hawk defense held the Flyers to just 8-for-30 from the field and forced seven turnovers. It was the lowest first-half point total by an opponent since Duquesne also scored 20 points on January 15.
"The players' attention to detail, and the defensive performance in the first half stand out to me. The thing that I liked is they really listened. We thought there was a way to attack them defensively. We did not do a very good job at Dayton, but here we made extra passes. We had 19 assists in the first half and 11 assists on 15 field goals," said Martelli. "Chris Wilson played with tremendous confidence. That's the thing about this group... We got it from the opening bell. But it was really a defensive performance. Coaches deserve a lot of credit for preparing them. I'm very, very appreciative of the student turnout again to support these guys. They're really good people, and they deserve good things to happen to them. And so far it has."
The Hawks kept rolling in the second half and maintained a 20-plus point lead most of the way. With four minutes remaining in the game, Roberts and Wilson had combined for 42 points on 16-for-19 shooting while entire Dayton team had 42 points on 16-of-56 shooting. Saint Joseph's took its largest margin of the game, 77-47, on a three-pointer by Bembry with 2:10 to play.
Saint Joseph's made 58.3 percent from the field in the game and connected on 60 percent (9-of-15) from three-point range. Dayton hit just 31.7 percent and 22.7 percent from behind the arc.
"It (team's performance) was real good. Real, real good. I thought there was a stretch in the second half where we kind of played the score, but that's because I have to pick on something," said Martelli. "They won six straight and I think that one of the things I put on the board is we have to start thinking about tournament style. So we played a team once, but now we've played that team a second time. We said 'Trust the fact that these guys have improved since the last time we played them. But so have we. And don't let that get away from you.'
"We've been going at this for 10 straight days. But practices were sharp, preparation was good, and these players like playing with each other. So we would like this to go on for a very long time."
Dayton was led by 13 points from Jalen Robinson and 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds from Devin Oliver.
Saint Joseph's goes on the road for two straight games, at St. Bonaventure on Saturday and at George Washington on March 5, before closing out the regular season at Hagan Arena versus La Salle on March 9