PHILADELPHIA - DeAndre' Bembry scored a game-high 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting to lead Saint Joseph’s (5-4) to a 68-42 win over Loyola Maryland (3-6) at Hagan Arena.
Bembry also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and had two blocks for Saint Joseph’s while senior Chris Wilson scored 13 points and handed out four assists.
The Hawks struggled offensively and trailed for most of the first half, but outscored Loyola, 17-6, in the final six minutes to take a 28-24 lead at halftime. They took their first lead, 21-20, on a layup by Bembry with 1:48 to go. The sophomore scored nine points in a three-minute span, closing it out with a three-pointer as time expired.
SJU stayed on track after halftime and opened the half with a 16-2 run to take a 44-26 lead with 14:44 remaining. Saint Joseph’s took its biggest lead of the game, 57-31, with 8:42 to go and maintained a 20-plus point margin the rest of the way. The Hawks converted a season-best 53.8 percent from the field in the second half, after going just 9-for-23 from the field in the first half.
"The energy from Shavar Newkirk turned the game around. In the first half, we were floundering and worried again about the ball going in the basket. He came out and played with some spunk when we were down 18-7," said Hawk coach Phil Martelli. "The second half offense was really a direct reflection of our defense. Stops, run-outs. James Demery has to play to the rim. DeAndre' was more assertive. And it was a big play. It'll get missed because it was a big spread in the second half, but the play at the end of the half when Shavar drove it and threw back to DeAndre', and he took a nice, normal, ordinary shot . . . It's a good sign."
It was Saint Joseph’s largest winning margin of the year, as six of the Hawks’ games have been decided by 10 points or less.
"It's certainly a different feeling when you have control of the game. And they were on each other about that. We've been on the other side of that, and it's not a great feeling the two times it happened to us,” said Martelli.
Loyola owned a 16-7 lead in the early going as the Hawks missed nine of their first 10 shots.
Cam Gregory led Loyola with 14 points and eight rebounds while Andre Walker scored 12 points.
The game served as the final home game of 2014 for the Hawks, who now have a 10-day break due to final exams. The Hawks return to action on December 20 at Marist.