Freshman James Demery hit a three-pointer to send the game into overtime and Saint Joseph’s scored the first four points of the extra period as the Hawks defeated LIU Brooklyn, 74-70, in the NIT Season Tip-Off at Hagan Arena.
DeAndre’ Bembry led Saint Joseph’s with 17 points and a career-high 11 rebounds for his first-ever double-double.
Demery took a pass from Bembry on the left wing and connected on the first three-pointer of his career with three seconds remaining to knot the score at 67-67.
"Not only was it a tough shot, but he (Demery) had a tip-out offensive rebound, he had a big offensive rebound, and he was aggressive. He played a really, really good game against Vermont, defensively,” said Hawk coach Phil Martelli. “Offensively, he hasn't quite found a way, and that's not really his shot. But, he did it with a little bit of something in his belly. And we didn't really have enough of that. We didn't have enough fire in the belly across the board."
LIU had taken the 67-64 lead with 10 seconds to play, on a pair of free throws by Elvar Fridriksson.
Aaron Brown and Isaiah Miles scored the first four points for Saint Joseph’s in the overtime, and LIU answered back with a three-pointer by Fridrikssson at 1:30, to cut the lead to 71-70. But Bembry made one free throw and Brown connected on a pair to seal the win for the Hawks.
Brown scored a career-high 15 points for Saint Joseph’s while Chris Wilson tallied 13 points and Demery finished with 11.
Nura Zanna and Iverson Fleming each scored 14 points for LIU Brooklyn, while Fridriksson scored 12 and Joel Hernandez added 10.
Wilson got the Hawks off to a quick start, making his first three three-pointers, to give SJU a 9-3 lead. LIU took its first lead of the game, 13-12, on a jumper by Joel Hernandez at 13:39. But Wilson would combine with Bembry to score the Hawks’ first 17 points of the game as they held a 17-16 lead at the 11:54 mark.
After LIU Brooklyn regained the lead, 20-19, Saint Joseph’s went on a 10-2 run, which featured two dunks from Javon Baumann to take a 29-22 lead with under five minutes to play. SJU would maintain the lead for the rest of the half and hold a 35-29 edge at halftime.
The Hawks built up their largest lead of the game, 41-31, just four minutes into the second half.
Trailing 49-42 with 10:48, the Blackbirds chipped away at the margin and came within 59-57 on a three-pointer by Fleming with 4:41 to play. LIU Brooklyn tied the contest, 61-61, and went ahead, 63-62, on a layup by Martin Hermannsson with 1:26 to play. Demery hit two free throws at 1:06 to give the Hawks a 64-63 lead and after Fridriksson put LIU ahead, Demery hit the game-tying three-pointer.
"I'm really concerned defensively. We're just not locking down. FDU had nine possessions in a row where they scored,” said Martelli. “But we'll take it. I think that the lack of panic on the last play with James Demery . . . We were trying to go to DeAndre' off of Isaiah, but they took that away. Just not a strong enough performance, defensively, for me. And we'll go back to work on it tomorrow."
Next up for both teams is another NIT Season Tip-Off game in Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving. LIU Brooklyn will take on Stony Brook at 4 p.m., followed by Saint Joseph’s against Western Kentucky 25 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.