NEW YORK – Sophomore DeAndre' Bembry notched a career-high 23 points, but the Saint Joseph's men's basketball team fell to Western Kentucky, 62-59, at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night in the Hawks' NIT Season Tip-Off finale.
Bembry scored 16 in the second half for Saint Joseph's (3-3), while Javon Baumann added a career-high 11 points.
With SJU trailing 46-40 at the 11:48 mark, Bembry would score 10 of the Hawks’ next 12 points. His steal and dunk with over six minutes to play gave SJU their first tie of the half, 50-50, and he gave the Hawks their first lead since the early part of the first half, 54-52, with 2:46 remaining..
A layup by Ben Lawson regained the lead for Western Kentucky (2-3), 56-54, with 1:58 to play.
WKU went up 58-54 on a tip-in by George Fant with 51 seconds on the clock. T.J. Price then gave WKU a 60-56 lead with a pair of free throws with 14.5 seconds to play.
Aaron Brown hit a three-pointer with 6.3 seconds to play to pull the Hawks within 60-59 before Price hit both ends of a one-and-one to put the Hilltoppers up three with 5.4 seconds left.
Bembry had a chance to send the game to overtime, but his three-point attempt at the buzzer was off the mark.
In the first half, Western Kentucky held an 18-17 lead and then used an 8-2 run to go up 26-19 on a tip-in by Justin Johnson. The Hilltoppers took their biggest lead of the half, 31-22, with 1:25 to play. A layup by Baumann cut the Hawk deficit to 31-24 at halftime.
The Hawks get a weekend off and then host Temple on Wednesday, December 3 in their first Philadelphia Big 5 game of the year. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. at Hagan Arena.