PHILADELPHIA - DeAndre’ Bembry scored 22 points to lead Saint Joseph’s over Vermont, 68-60, in men’s basketball action at Hagan Arena on Saturday night.
Bembry tied his career-high in both points and rebounds with nine, while Isaiah Miles had 15 points. Aaron Brown added 13 points for his third straight game in double figures.
Hector Harold and Ethan O’Day led Vermont (2-2) with 10 points apiece.
Vermont took the early lead, 11-1, on the Hawks in the first three minutes of the game. The Hawks fought back, going on a 16-5 run as Bembry and Wilson combined to score 11 points. Bembry had a dunk and a layup and then threaded a fast break pass to Wilson, who converted the layup to give SJU its first lead of the game, 17-16, with 9:28 remaining.
The Hawks maintained the lead the rest of the way, holding a 32-26 margin at halftime as they forced 10 Vermont turnovers in the half, while outrebounding the visitors, 25-16.
The Hawks came out firing in the second half, and a Bembry three-pointer started a7 -0 run, as SJU forced four straight Vermont turnovers. A Javon Baumann layup with the pass from Bembry and a jumper by Miles gave the Hawks a 39-26 lead.
Vermont broke its four-minute scoreless streak at 15:10 on a three-pointer by Kurt Stiedl. But another Bembry three-pointer pushed the Hawks’ lead to 42-29. A pair of free throws by Bembry gave SJU its biggest lead of the game, 46-32.
Vermont scored six straight to cut SJU’s lead to 51-45 at 8:48, but Saint Joseph’s answered with five points from Miles to increase its margin back to 10, 56-46.
The Catamounts made one more push, coming to within 61-56 with 3:23 left, but Bembry went 4-for-4 from the foul line to go up by 66-56 with 2:08 remaining.
"We had a reasonably good workout yesterday. But the change in Shavar Newkirk made a difference when he went in in the first half. Aaron Brown was trying to do too much. But then when we rotated again, we got settled in and it was really a defensive game to me. I thought we really paid attention to the scouting report,” said SJU coach Phil Martelli. “We have to eliminate bonehead plays though. We can't be a team that has 15 turnovers when we're going to struggle to score points. Better, and more to come."
"I thought that there was no panic. There were some panic plays and we have to clean those up, and we have to get more from individual guys, but we'll do that in conversations with them. I think that we made a little adjustment in the press not so much in that we turned them over, but we got the game at least in some kind of flow. For a while there, it looks like you're going to struggle to get to 50 again, and that's a hard way to live."
"Defensively, I thought that we were really sharp after the beginning of the game. We made an adjustment in the press, but we really paid attention on the ball screen. Defense, to me, is the story here."
It was a season-high in points for SJU, which had not scored more than 57 in its first three games.
The Hawks return to action on Tuesday evening in the second game of the NIT Season Tip-Off, hosting LIU Brooklyn at 7 p.m. Saint Joseph’s will conclude play in the NIT on Thanksgiving evening against Western Kentucky at Madison Square Garden. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU at 6 p.m.